By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C. Dec 13 Boeing Co has
obtained a $1-a-year lease for another large tract of state
land near its factory in South Carolina that will nearly double
the amount expected for a planned expansion, a spokeswoman for
the plane maker said on Friday.
Besides 267 acres (108 hectares) it had planned to lease
from the Charleston County Aviation Authority, Boeing added
another 201 acres (81 hectares) that had been privately owned,
spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said.
Boeing did not say what it plans to build on the land, which
is near its 787 Dreamliner final assembly plant in North
The South Carolina land deal closed three days after Boeing
received proposals from other states, including Missouri,
Georgia, Alabama, California and Kansas, that want the company's
lucrative new jet program, known as the 777X. Landing the
program would mean thousands of jobs and billion of dollars in
economic benefit to the winning state.
Palmetto Railways, a division of the South Carolina
Department of Commerce, paid $49 million for the land, a
department spokeswoman said. It will lease the property to
Boeing for $1 a year until 2027, when the company can opt to buy
Boeing also leases the 264 acre-plot for its 787 final
assembly plant for $1 a year from the Charleston County Aviation
Authority. The lease term on that land expires in 2025, when
Boeing has the option to purchase it.
The 468 acres in the latest tracts were bought with state
bond funds allocated to Boeing that could only be used for land
purchase and preparation, Eslinger said.
As part of the land transaction, South Carolina recently
sold $85 million in bonds, raising a portion of the $120 million
the state approved last spring for Boeing's expansion. The funds
include money for infrastructure and wetlands mitigation.
Boeing has spent at least $1 billion in South Carolina and
has committed to investing another $1 billion and hiring 2,000
people over the next eight years for work tied to the 787 and
Boeing also announced on Friday that it would begin
construction next year on a new 230,000-square-foot paint
facility on its main campus in North Charleston. The company
said it expects to begin painting fully assembled 787
Dreamliners in South Carolina in mid-2016.
In November, it kicked off construction of a
225,000-square-foot propulsion center that will design and
assemble part of the engine housing for another new jet, the 737
MAX. The facility is on Boeing-owned land about 12 miles from
the main campus.
Boeing requested proposals for the 777X jetliner program
from more than a dozen states after its unionized machinists in
Washington state last month rejected a labor contract that would
have guaranteed the plane be built there.
Boeing and union leaders met again this week and exchanged
proposals, but on Thursday union leaders rejected a contract
offer from Boeing.
Missouri lawmakers recently approved $1.7 billion in tax
cuts and other benefits to Boeing. Alabama government leaders
intend to pitch Huntsville, where Boeing has extensive
operations. California, where Boeing's C-17 production is
winding down, is also working on a proposal for the planemaker.
Georgia has said it would offer two potential sites.
"We want it as bad as anybody else. And we can deliver it,"
Paul Campbell, director of airports for South Carolina's
Charleston County Aviation Authority, said last week.
Washington state has remained in the running. Lawmakers last
month passed $8.7 billion in tax incentives to keep Boeing in
the region where it builds nearly all of its commercial
aircraft. Analysts say there is a strong logic to building the
new plane in the Seattle area, where the current 777 is made.
South Carolina officials tout the state's "right-to-work"
status, which deters union organization of workers. Boeing
opened its 787 Dreamliner final assembly plant in North
Charleston in 2011 as the only other location besides Washington
state in which it builds commercial airplanes.
The plant assembles fuselages for the 787, completing final
assembly on about 1-1/2 planes per month. The production rate is
expected to increase to three per month early next year, said
Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South