By Jim Davis <i>HBJ Editor</i>
EVERETT — Boeing will make a decision on where in the state to build the innovative carbon fiber wing for the 777X by mid-February, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said this morning at the annual state of the city speech.
Snohomish County is competing with Pierce and Spokane counties for the work on the next generation of the 777, billed as the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world.
It is expected the plane will be assembled in Everett.
Stephanson said he believes Everett and Snohomish County are well positioned for the work on the wing.
“They want those buildings up and operational by 2015,” Stephanson said after the speech. “The clock is ticking for them, because of the strong customer demand.”
He said the innovative wing could be used on future generations of planes including a next generation of the 757. It’s key that the work occur in Everett, he said.
Stephanson also took time to praise the Machinists for their vote that paved the way for the new generation of plane to be built in the state.
He said the wisdom of the Machinist’s vote will be seen in future years, adding before he and other elected officials urged a yes vote that they looked deeply at the contract offer.
He said he’s been mostly silent on the issue since the vote, because emotions are still raw and now is a time for healing.
“The first thing that I want to do in all sincerity is thank the Machinists for the courageous vote they took on Jan. 3,” Stephanson said. His speech at the Everett Golf &Country Club was sponsored by Economic Alliance Snohomish County.
In other news:
• The developer for the long-delayed Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Everett should get financing for the project by April and construction would begin in June, Stephanson said. The $27 million, eight-story project has been in the works for five years. The city transferred ownership of the project site to Touchstone Corp. of Seattle more than a year ago. The half-acre lot, long used for municipal parking, sits at the southeast corner of Colby Avenue and Wall Street.
The City Council gave the developer an extension on the project last October with financial penalties if Touchstone doesn’t meet the deadline.
Stephanson said he understand doubters, but said that these projects take time.
• Construction on an air passenger terminal at the Snohomish County-owned Paine Field needs to begin this year, Stephanson said. The issue has been contentious for years with many residents in south county concerned about noise and pollution with commercial air travel at the airport.
But the airport is needed, Stephanson said. The city is losing out on business and seeing businesses move away, because business owners “can’t get from Point A to Point B with any predictablity,” Stephanson said.
• The city has an incredible opportunity to bring a major ship builder and repairing outfit to the former Kimberly-Clark site, Stephanson said. The parent company of Foss Maritime announced last October that it had reached a tentative deal to purchase the waterfront property. The company is doing due diligence on the land.
Stephanson said that 250 people would be employed at the property when it opens, which could take two to three years. But he said that the property could have “well over 1,000 jobs on the site in our lifetime.”
• The state needs a new transportation package to fix broken roadways and to meet future traffic needs, Stephanson said. But he said that he hasn’t seen movement on the issue.
“I’d like to tell you that I’m confident we’ll get one this year, but I’m not,” Stephanson said.
The business community needs to urge state lawmakers to move forward on a transportation package, Stephanson said. The city has gone to Olympia meet with state lawmakers about the issue. But he said both Democrats and Republicans have told them that they need to hear from the business community.
“That’s the consistent message whether it’s valid or not,” Stephanson said.
At the end of the speech, Stephanson took a few questions from the audience. The first question drew the biggest laughter of the morning when someone asked him about his thoughts on legalization in the state of marijuana for adults.
“You talking personally or professionally?” Stephanson joked.
He then said that the city will take a modest, moderate approach to dealing with the new marijuana businesses. He added that the city will be watching to see if federal policy changes in the future on the lawfulness of pot.