The Inslee aerospace vision

Aerospace, like timber and agriculture, is embedded in the soil: The Pacific Northwest has seeded and harvested engineers since William Boeing tested his Model C naval trainer in 1916.

While the industry is diverse, with 200 aerospace suppliers between Arlington and Bothell alone, Boeing remains the big Kahuna — a colossus the Northwest could lose by attrition to the Palmetto State. To hint at moving seems alarmist, but hints galvanize policymakers.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney called Everett an “attractive place” to manufacture the next generation of Boeing 777s, The Herald’s Michelle Dunlop reports, but Snohomish County’s largest employer can be a fickle suitor.

A couple of generations and the era of Bill Allen and T Wilson was supplanted by Phil Condit’s age of hubris. There was the 1997 McDonnell Douglas merger, and the uprooting of corporate headquarters to a Midwest city that will go unnamed. Boeing’s board of directors (someone push the panic button) has no Everett-Seattle-Renton roots.

Washington nevertheless has the foundational goods that can’t be duplicated in South Carolina, and company directors understand that. Boeing has invested $1 billion in its Everett plant over the past 5 years.

A vital infrastructure, broadly defined, has a rising-tide effect. The centerpiece of a keep-‘em-here strategy elevates higher ed, K-12, and transportation. It’s another reason why lawmakers shouldn’t punt on a special-session transpo package.

Gov. Jay Inslee is positioned to articulate a comprehensive strategy and a strong, clear vision on aerospace. Does he have a game plan and a means to implement it? A blueprint won’t be as entertainingly mercenary as South Carolina’s $120 million Boeing giveaway, but it should mollify the aerospace sector about predictability, that its vitality and Washington’s economic health are interdependent.

In the final years of the Gregoire era, aerospace execs developed a sense of trust that state government could adapt and work in common cause. And with a visit to Everett this week, Inslee will have a platform to underscore his strategy.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and regional leaders have quietly urged an Inslee sit-down with McNerney to graduate “attractive place” to the no-question place. It’s a manageable goal. A promising, bipartisan sign is the Senate Majority Coalition’s apparent willingness to yield and support the Governor’s Office of Aerospace.

The Washington Aerospace Partnership, along with labor and business, are mobilized to help. A healthy aerospace sector is more about leadership than it is politics. It’s embedded in the soil.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Oct. 22

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: Can we please keep a civil tongue?

A recent EdCC forum asked panelists: Are you alarmed at the tone and tenor of civic discourse today?

Viewpoints: Gun control and the Founding Fathers

Laws regarding gun registration, public carry and more were around long before the Second Amendment.

Commentary: Investment, innovation keep rail transport safe

Along with rail improvements, technology, like AskRail, gives first responders vital information.

Rampell: Democrats could be GOP’s best hope to get things done

Why should Republicans work with Democrats to get anything done? Because nothing is getting done.

Robinson: Trump’s lack of empathy not what we signed up for

Comforting the families of those killed in the line of duty requires humility, a trait Trump lacks.

Keillor: Obits allow a hint of extraordinary in ordinary lives

An appreciation for the art of well-told obituaries and the lives that they chronicle.

Sultan candidates forum was informative, helpful

The Candidate Forum on Monday, October 9, at the Sultan High School… Continue reading

Trump owes security guard in Las Vegas shooting an apology

Remember the Mexican rapists and drug smugglers Donald Trump said were invading… Continue reading

Most Read