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Eye On Olympia

WSU president on governor’s new “Council on Aerospace”

With a stroke of the pen, Gov. Chris Gregoire today created “the Washington Council on Aerospace,” intended to remind Boeing and related industries that Washington loves them.

“The council will oversee state efforts to ensure that Washington remains the leading location in the world in which to design and build airplanes,” said a statement put out by Gregoire’s office.

The 14-member council includes Washington State University president Elson Floyd, University of Washington president Mark Emmert, several state lawmakers, lobbyists for Boeing and one of the major aerospace unions, and a yet-to-be-determined member representing aerospace employers in Eastern Washington.

The state is determined to win a second manufacturing line for the new 787, although that’s not expected anytime soon. And a closely-watched report, released last month, concluded that “Washington is not keeping its competitive edge in attracting and retaining the commercial aircraft industry.”

With Boeing, its suppliers and related businesses accounting for an estimated $36 billion a year of the state’s economy (two-thirds of the state’s exports, 8 percent of the jobs, $5.4 billion in wages, annual wage of $83,370), those are words to make Olympia very nervous.

So Gregoire formed the council, to, in her words, “ensure we are doing all we can in a sustained way to be even more competitive.” She points to the existing tax breaks for the industry, strong aerospace R&D base here, and Washington’s “unparalleled quality of life” as other strong points.

Specifically, the council’s duties will coordinate worker training programs at state colleges and technical schools, R&D at the research universities and advise Olympia on “how Washington can improve its attractiveness to the aerospace industry.”

The council includes:

Rogers Weed, director of the Department of Commerce (chair)
Ann Daley, executive director of the Higher Education Coordinating Board
Charlie Earl, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the University of Washington
Dr. Elson Floyd, president of Washington State University
Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens
Rep. Phyllis Kenney, D-Seattle
Stan Sorscher, legislative director for SPEEA (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace)
David Schumacher, government affairs director of The Boeing Company
Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, 
One member representing a labor organization of aerospace Machinists
One member representing aerospace employers in Eastern Washington
One member representing aerospace employers in Western Washington


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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