First Person: The Boeing Defense, Space & Security Manufacturing Site Selection Process
The editor of Area Development recently discussed BDS' decision to open a manufacturing facility at MidAmerica with the St. Clair Site Lead Don Anderson.
Anderson: Boeing initially studied the MidAmerica Airport site in 2008, but it wasn't until the second quarter of 2010 that discussions with St. Clair County and MidAmerica Airport began to focus on the existing distribution center.
What initially led BDS to select the site at MidAmerica Airport in southwestern Illinois for its new manufacturing facility?
Anderson: The proximity to some of our key customers, the presence of a skilled work force in the area, and the infrastructure at MidAmerica Airport made the existing facility an ideal choice.
How important was it that the new facility is in proximity to Boeing's headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri?
Anderson: Boeing St. Clair is an extension of the St. Louis site. The fact that it is close to the site, which is home to Boeing Defense, Space & Security headquarters, allows us to draw from our experienced work force from day one. Approximately 2,000 of our 16,000 St. Louis employees live in Illinois,
How important was the existence of an available facility - as opposed to having to build to suit?
Anderson: The existing infrastructure was a key factor in the decision-making process. The 50,000-square-foot distribution center could be easily renovated to make it viable for assembly and subassembly work - quicker than the time it would take to design and build a new facility. This decision to use the existing facility also minimized the startup costs.
How are the particular labor force requirements being met?
Anderson: The new Boeing St. Clair facility is an extension of the St. Louis site. Employees who work at Boeing St. Clair are represented by the IAM District 837. The work force requirements will be met by both internal and external hires.
How does the new Illinois facility meet infrastructure needs in terms of serving BDS' client base?
Anderson: The 50,000-square-foot distribution center was renovated to make it viable for assembly and subassembly work currently being performed on the F/A-18 and the C-17 Globemaster. CH-47 Chinook programs will be phased in over the next several months. The most significant improvements included the installation of an overhead crane system and upgrades to the HVAC, electrical power, and IT infrastructure.
Were any financial incentives provided by state and or local entities? If so, what commitments in terms of investment and/or job creation were made by Boeing in return for the incentives?
Anderson: Boeing received the same incentives available to any employer of this size and scope that locates in St. Clair County. Boeing will create a minimum of 70 new full-time jobs by mid 2012 and invest approximately $7 million toward building, infrastructure, equipment, land, and training.
How will the Mid America facility add value to BDS?
Anderson: This facility incorporates lessons learned from across all of Boeing - both the commercial and defense business - for efficient production of first-time quality aerospace products to meet the high-value, low-cost needs of our customers. It is a welcome extension of our manufacturing base in the St. Louis region that will keep us competitive in order to grow in the future.
We look forward to a continued positive and enduring partnership with St. Clair County as we finalize preparations to bring Boeing St. Clair up to full capacity in the months ahead.
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