BUZZ: Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Hugh Leatherman coy on Boeing 777X bid

Posted by ANDREW SHAIN on December 10, 2013 

— Two South Carolina leaders declined to say directly Tuesday if the state is submitting a bid for producing Boeing's 777X jet.

Proposed incentive packages are due to the Chicago aircraft maker on Tuesday. More than a dozen states reportedly received requests from Boeing to bid on producing the airliner with several touting their interest.

But don't count South Carolina, where Boeing already has a manufacturing plant and received $570 million in incentives, among the braggers.

"We are always in good talks with Boeing," Gov. Nikki Haley said. "If something gets sent in, you'll know about it."

Senate Finance chairman Hugh Leatherman, a Florence Republican who has worked closely with Boeing, said "we'll have to see" when asked Tuesday about a South Carolina bid for the new production line.

"We've always been in interested in Boeing," he said. "We stay interested in all cases."

Boeing seeks a long runway, land to build a 4.2 million-square-foot factory, a number of of tax breaks and access to interstates, rail lines and possibly a deep-sea port, according to a copy of the company's pitch to state obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The company says the 777X will be the "largest and most-efficient twin-engine jet in the world" made from light-weight composite materials like the Boeing's 787 aircraft.

In South Carolina, Boeing operates a 6,000-employee 787 jet manufacturing plant in North Charleston. The Lowcountry plant was the company's first outside of the Seattle area.

This year, South Carolina gave Boeing another $120 million in incentives -- on top of the state-record $450 million to lure the company initially -- to expand the North Charleston plant.

The expansion is expected to involve the 737 jet and could add 2,000 workers.

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