Will the state’s aerospace office survive budget cuts?

Roughly a year after its creation, the governor’s office of aerospace could be on the state budget chopping block.

The Senate’s proposed budget, which is being voted on this afternoon, would eliminate funding for the office.

Former Gov. Chris Gregoire named the first director, Alex Pietsch, of the aerospace office in March 2012. The office was part of Gregoire’s pitch to Boeing when the state was vying for 737 MAX work in late 2011.

A state competitiveness study, conducted for the 737 MAX competition, also deemed the position vital to keeping Washington focused on the aerospace industry.

Aerospace groups in the state sent out emails and tweets on Friday urging people to communicate with the Senate and restore funding, $245,000, to the 2013-2015 budget.

Bob Drewel, with Prosperity Partnership, called the elimination of funding for the aerospace office a “stunning set-back to our collective efforts to compete for jobs in aerospace.”

Washington Aerospace Partnership, which Drewel helped to create, partially funds the aerospace director position.

The idea of having a state aerospace director originated in 2003 when Washington was competing to win the original 787 final assembly line in Everett. The state was successful in that competition but didn’t create the position. In 2009, Boeing selected North Charleston, South Carolina as the site of a second 787 assembly line.

Gov. Jay Inslee has outlined workforce training and transportation as key issues to winning work on Boeing’s 777X, an updated version of the Everett-built 777 that the company is likely to launch this year.

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