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We must go after the 737 MAX for state, Gov. Gregoire
Gov. Chris Gregoire addressed a crowd of business, labor and government leaders from across the state Wednesday at Renton Technical College.
Gov. Chris Gregoire launched the state’s efforts to build the 737 MAX in Washington, proposing to spend millions of dollars to educate and train the future workers of the aerospace industry in the state.
The $9.8 million investment in the aerospace training will go before the state Legislature; several local lawmakers, including state Rep. Marcie Maxwell of Renton, stood behind Gregoire as she spoke.
The reason for Gregoire’s appearance at a worker-training classroom at Renton Technical College was the release of an Aerospace Competitiveness Study that formed the basis for the state’s efforts to keep the 737 MAX production in Washington.
Eight other states are vying for the right to build the new 737; Boeing will make its decision in the next few months.
“There is no question that Washington state is the best place in the world to build the Boeing 737 MAX jetliner,” Gregoire said. She called the 737 MAX a game-changing aircraft in this state with its thousands of new jobs.
“But I never take anything for granted – especially in a global market where business and can go anywhere at a speed unknown even a decade ago.”
Every 737 in service today made its maiden voyage from Boeing's production plant in Renton. Gregoire praised the Renton plant, but as governor she's trying to keep the 737 MAX production at least somewhere in the state.
Gregoire’s proposal places heavy emphasis on enhancing the state’s education system, starting with the earliest grades. At the college level, she’s proposing to use $7.6 million to add 775 more engineering students at the University of Washington and Washington State University.
At the high school level, she wants to add an aerospace program at 12 schools and provide two Skills Centers to train high school students. Several students from Aviation High School based at Boeing Field attended the press conference. She stressed the importance of improving math and science skills at all levels.
The end result is preserving and adding family wage jobs in the state, she said. There are 110,000 aerospace jobs in Washington and the 80,000 jobs at Boeing.
The state has 650 companies that support Boeing’s plants, the largest such concentration of aerospace suppliers in the world.
This is, she said, an “all hands on deck” moment for the state.
“We must go after it,” she said the 737 MAX production. “It is a call for all hands on deck. It is likely the largest manufacturing contract in the world for at least a decade.”