Seattle will be the site of a “summit” on aerospace suppliers next March and a Bellingham company will expand to reconfigure planes for an Austrian airline, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.
Deals for both were struck during the second day of the Paris Air Show, which Gregoire is attending to boost the chances of selling more Boeing planes and the products of some 650 aerospace manufacturers and suppliers in Washington.
The summit, to be hosted by Boeing and the state Commerce Department, is expected to draw about 600 businesses and be the first of its kind in North America, Gregoire said in a telephone press conference.
“All in all, it was a pretty good day for us,” she said.
The governor also defended the 10-day trip out of the state — she stopped in Spain before Paris to talk with the company that will dig the tunnel for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement in Seattle, and will travel to Hamburg to talk with BMW and other companies making carbon-fiber parts at a new Moses Lake facility — as worth the $40,000 price tag for herself, two staff members and three representatives of the Commerce Department.
“I'm here promoting our state,” she said. “We are not going to come out of this recession with me sitting in my office.”
She didn't attend the last Paris Air Show in 2009, “and I took criticism for not going.”
She met with top executives from Boeing, lobbying for Washington to be the site for any expansion of the company's 737 jetliner production. She also met with the American chief executive officer of Boeing's aviation industry rival Airbus, which also buys parts from aviation suppliers in Washington. “I made clear to them I fully appreciate we're the Number Two state in the nation with (companies) supplying to Airbus.”
Asked if that meeting was awkward, considering she helped lead the lobbying for Boeing to beat out Airbus for a U.S. Air Force contract to build a new refueling tanker to replace the KC-135, Gregoire said she made clear she was rooting for “my home team.”
“We didn't talk very much about the tanker at all,” she said.