April 12, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: State creates releases but very few jobs

 

This is a complete list of the news releases from the Washington Department of Commerce since March 1:

March 26 — Grants up to $100,000 now available for improving broadband access and use.

March 20 — State solicits public comment on request to weatherize more homes.

March 18 — Fewer teens use tobacco and alcohol; many need support for depressive feelings.

March 13 — Governor Inslee announces $18 million for projects to reduce energy costs, create jobs.

March 7 — Researchers, manufacturers and industry join forces to advance Washington state composites at leading international trade show.

March 7 — Federal grants aim to protect Puget Sound watersheds.

Total job gains enumerated: 0

And this is a partial list of news releases from the South Carolina Department of Commerce over that same period:

April 8 — McLaughlin Body Company establishing new facility in Anderson County.

April 4 — Harbor Freight Tools expanding distribution facility in Dillon County.

March 27 — Essex Holdings establishing new facility in Marion County.

March 20 — Outokumpu Stainless Bar expanding operations with new facility in Chester County.

March 6 — Spirit Pharmaceuticals establishing new facility in Clarendon County.

March 1 — South Carolina exports reach record: nearly $25.3 billion in 2012.

Total job gains enumerated by these and other releases on the complete list: 1,161.

But the list does not include an announcement made Wednesday by Boeing Co., which will invest $1 billion and create an additional 2,000 jobs at its North Charleston 787 assembly plant. Plans also include an information technology center, and other engineering and research and development capabilities.

The expansion was made possible by a state commitment to spend $120 million on infrastructure improvements and other incentives, bringing South Carolina’s total investment to almost $1 billion. The company has also been able to buy hundreds of acres of property adjacent to its plant at bargain-basement prices.

The announcement came a day after Airbus broke ground on a plant in Alabama. Airbus, remember, lost out to Boeing on the contract for a new U.S. Air Force tanker.

These developments should be very troubling for those who remember what made the Rust Belt the bust belt. Bloated domestic automobile producers imploded, while foreign manufactures built plants in Southern states that offered fat incentives and non-union labor. Boeing is exploiting those same come-ons. And a presence in the South allows the company to tap a new pool of engineers, a commodity lacking at Washington’s capacity-constrained universities.

Sadder, though, is the message conveyed by those Commerce Department lists. Does an announcement about lower teen drug and alcohol use, welcome as it is, belong on the Washington site? And $100,000 for broadband access; is that the best we can do?

South Carolina hasn’t home-grown anything like a Boeing, a Microsoft, an Amazon or a Starbucks, but any executives looking to relocate or expand their companies would look at the news headlines on the two state websites and wonder just what business Washington is in, if any.

There’s no doubt looking at South Carolina’s.


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