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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

State asks expert: How competitive are we for landing new Boeing jetliner?

 (Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – A coalition of government, union and business officials is hiring a national expert to tell Washington how it stacks up in an upcoming competition to be the place where Boeing builds its next airplane.

The Choose Washington New Middle-market Airplane Council, put together by Gov. Jay Inslee, has hired a Fairfax, Virginia, aerospace analyst for an outside perspective on how competitive the state is.

“You can never be complacent,” Commerce Department Director Brian Bonlender said.

Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis of the Teal Group, said Boeing eventually agreed to build the 777X and its composite wings in Washington, but it was “far from a slam dunk.”

The final agreement came after a special session of the Legislature in which the state agreed to extend tax breaks that Boeing has for other airplanes. The new plane would also qualify for those incentives if it is built in Washington, Bonlender said.

The tax breaks have become controversial because there are no guarantees for Boeing to employ a certain number of workers in the state, and the company’s overall workforce in Washington has dropped.

Some legislators also tried to give all manufacturers in the state the same low business and occupation tax rate that Boeing receives last year, but Inslee vetoed that section of a tax package.

The initial contract with Teal for the study, which is expected by April, is for $55,000. Boeing has not yet said when it will announce where the plane will be built.