December 13, 2013

Boeing adding SC paint facility, acquires land

Construction will begin next year at North Charleston assembly plant

Boeing has released more details of its $1 billion expansion in South Carolina, announcing it has acquired more land and will open a painting facility in the state.

The aeronautics company announced Friday that it will begin construction in the second half of 2014 on a 230,000-square-foot building to paint the 787 Dreamliners it builds at its North Charleston assembly plant.

Boeing’s announcement Friday of the new land acquisitions in Charleston on top of commitments of more than $2 billion in investments the company has made in the state since 2009 briefly shifted some of the focus from its roiling negotiations with machinists in Washington over production of its new 777X aircraft there or elsewhere.

The South Carolina Department of Commerce still declined comment Friday on whether the state submitted a proposal to Boeing for the work by this week’s deadline. Boeing, meanwhile, said it received new proposals from 22 states for 54 propositions.

“We are not naming any of those locations,” said Doug Alder, Boeing spokesman. “We expect to have a final decision early next year.”

Meanwhile, Boeing said the new paint facility should be in operation by mid-2016.

Currently, 787s built in South Carolina are flown to Fort Worth, Texas, to be painted with airline logos and then are returned to South Carolina for final delivery to customers.

“We can make our delivery process even more efficient by painting airplanes here in South Carolina, creating more value and convenience for our customers,” Jack Jones, the vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, said in a statement.

The company also said it has reached agreement with Palmetto Railways, a division of the state Commerce Department, for a long-term lease of about 470 additional acres of land in North Charleston. Boeing said the purpose of the lease is to protect the land for future expansion.

The lease includes a provision that Boeing can purchase the land at the end of the lease term in 2027.

Jones said the company has no specific plans for the land other than it will be the location of the new paint facility.

Boeing announced Thursday that it will be adding 300 to 400 employees in North Charleston as part of a restructuring of its research operations. A similar number will be added in St. Louis area and Huntsville, Ala.

Those jobs are being shifted from Seattle and Southern California. The company will begin moving the jobs early next year.

Earlier this year, Boeing announced it will invest another $1.1 billion and create 2,000 new jobs in South Carolina over eight years.

Staff writer Roddie Burris contributed.

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