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Pence: State vying for Boeing airplane facility

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Gov. Mike Pence says state economic development officials have talked to Boeing Co. about building its planned airplane manufacturing and assembly facility in Indiana.

"We have had contact with them and discussions, but I won't comment further on those," Pence told The Times of Munster. "I will tell you, every opportunity that we are given to tell Indiana's story and make the case for Indiana — we do."

Boeing Co., which is based in Chicago, began soliciting bids last month for a site to build its new 777X airplane and hopes to make a final decision on a site early next year. Fifteen states are competing for the $10 billion facility that could employ up to 8,500 workers by 2024.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said Indiana would be a logical selection because, according to documents obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Boeing wants to build the facility next to an airport with a 9,000-foot runway, have highway and road access for parts deliveries and a direct rail connection on a dedicated spur line. A nearby port capable of handling regular and oversized containers also is "desired."

Soliday said northwest Indiana meets all the road, rail, port and airport connections Boeing is seeking and the state has a strong manufacturing workforce, and Purdue University is well known for its aeronautics programs.

Soliday, a pilot and former United Airlines executive, said the soon-to-be completed 8,900-foot runway at Gary-Chicago International Airport, which is already home to Boeing's Midwest corporate jet fleet, "is as good as 9,000."

Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Fort Wayne all have airport runways exceeding 9,000 feet.

Katelyn Hancock, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's commerce agency, said it has worked to show Boeing how Indiana would fit into the company's long-term plans.

Other states that are seeking to land the project include Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington state, Alabama, California, Pennsylvania and Kansas.

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  • Grissom
    Grissom has a 12,500 foot long runway. It is the 3rd longest runway in the eastern United States behind Cape Canaveral(NASA) and Bangor, Maine.
  • ideas.
    I agree with the previous poster that talked about existing workforce education attainment, bridging skills gaps, and quality of life issues important to employees. Those items are *at least* as important as location and logistics. When you consider that Boeing already has plants (and established suppliers/supply chains) in WA and TX, and that WA is throwing a boatload of subsidy at them, and that Seattle/Redmond already offers *a lot more* in the way of education/skills/QOL, is the prospect of building a new Boeing plant in Gary, IN really going to fly (pun intended)? It would take a serious, decades-long commitment by the state just to get up to the base level that exists in those other places. Pence et al are simply generating good ideas that Boeing may be able to use when it hammers out a deal somewhere else. If the governor really believes that the key to building the advanced manufacturing economy in Indiana is in the aerospace sector, he should get going on building that Conexus initiative now so Indiana is ready to build Boeing's next new plane in 10 years. Commit hard now, get jobs later. Maybe that doesn't jive well with election cycles, but the workers will be cheering your name in 2025.
  • It could be done
    I see problems with organized labor here. We're now a right to work state, which Boeing likes, but the government doesn't. Look what they tried to do in South Carolina. If they pitch it as northwest Indiana and leave the word "Gary" out of everything we might have a better shot (pun intended). If Boeing has a subsidiary that makes ammunition, neon spray paint and handgun replacement parts, then we pitch Gary all the way!
  • Grissom
    How long is the old Grissom Air Base runway? lots of flat buildable land on all sides.2612 536883
    • What Jim F. said
      Remember that they're headquartered in Chicago. Gary's negation reputation will surely precede it. (And it has nothing to do with Union boogeymen.)
    • Criteria to be Attractive Lacking
      Indeed this would be a big plus for Indiana. However, site selection criteria usually go far beyond just land and general location, particularly when big companies are involved. They often look at other factors that affect the overall quality of life for their workers--education attainment, overall health of the citizens, recreational facilities, general culture (think gay rights amendment, regulatory environment, skills gaps, etc. I'm not convinced that relatively low taxes, old empty airports, and the "right to work" law will carry the day in this situation.
    • not Lake County
      If this goes to Lake County, the union problems will be far worse than they are right now. Lake County is the most corrupt county in Indiana and probably the midwest (aside from Cook County, of course). It is run by Unions. Please Governor, don't offer up Gary!!!
    • agree
      I agree - first thought was that the old airport would check a lot of boxes. Build on the airport, rail line adjacent could add a spur, right on 465. Upgrade the Avon rail yard to be the "port" facility and its all set. I'd imagine the proposal would at least be competitive with other locations.
    • Indy would be perfect
      Wow, the old airport would be perfect (and right next to the new airport for all the business travel that would be generated). Would help keep our rail lines working as well. And, though we're not right next to a port, we're fairly close to Lake Michigan and the Ohio River. Crossroads of the Nation. 8500 jobs! Come on Indy, talk to the Gov.
      • Gary airport? Seriously?
        We're among 15 states competing for this and we offer up the Gary airport? That's a recipe for failure, especially when going against facilities and infrastructure like Alliance in Fort Worth, Texas. Come on, Indiana. Get with the program. These are jobs worth having, but they're not going to Gary. We're going to have to do a lot better than that if we are to have any chance at all.
      • Why not Indy
        We have the skilled trades to do this. Donated land and facilities could get the deal. We have rolls Royce and ge aircraft is in Cincinnati. Doubt if we will get it. We don't seem to win these large ones.

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