Boeing is considering moving 1,400 jobs to Kent next year from its other Puget Sound-area sites.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph revealed the news during her Nov. 6 report to the City Council.
“They are bringing somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600 news jobs to the Kent Valley,” Ralph said after meeting the previous week with Boeing representatives. “About 800 could be here by the end of first quarter.”
When told about the mayor’s announcement, a Boeing spokesman released the following statement:
“We’re in discussions on relocating some current Puget Sound-based positions to Kent which could have the capacity for as many as 1,400 employees,” said Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman in an email Monday. “Planning is still underway and we don’t have any further information to share at this time.”
Ralph said the decision to move jobs to Kent had to do with where the company’s employees live. Boeing’s Kent facility sits along the West Valley Highway between South 199th Place and South 208th Street.
“They are excited to bring these employees here,” she said. “They did some surveying in different departments and it showed the majority lived in the south end, south of Bellevue.”
The relocation of employees to Kent would reverse Boeing’s trend over the last several years to move employees out of the city. The company announced in November 2016 that it would move 1,000 positions from its Kent site to Tukwila between 2017 and 2020. Bergman declined to comment about how the latest plan to move employees to Kent impacts that decision.
The decision in 2016 was part of a nationwide change by Chicago-based Boeing to operate its Defense, Space & Security business more efficiently through facilities consolidations and work movements.
In 2014, Boeing announced that about 2,000 jobs in its defense division would go to other cities, mainly St. Louis and Oklahoma City. Most of those 2,000 employees were at facilities in Kent and Seattle.
Boeing sold off 70 acres at the Kent Space Center property along South 212th Street in 2013 to the IDS Real Estate Group and Clarion Partners. Amazon.com, Inc., built a nearly 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center on the property, which also includes the Stryker Business Center at Pacific Gateway. Crews demolished several large, former Boeing buildings to make room for the new project. Amazon opened its fulfillment center in 2016.
Boeing opened the Space Center in 1964 in Kent. The company has employed as many as 5,000 at the site. City officials estimated about 500 now work in Kent.
If Boeing brings more jobs to Kent, however, city officials are ready to have them.
“We are excited to welcome nearly 1,500 new employees to the Kent Valley,” Ralph said.
This story originally appeared in the Kent Reporter, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.