Tulsa vying for a Boeing assembly plant

Sunday, June 15th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

Oklahoma could be among at least 17 states, including neighboring Arkansas, that are vying for a Boeing Co. assembly site for passenger jets.

Competing states are believed to be putting together incentive packages to lure the company to their locations, the Tulsa World reported in Sunday editions.

City officials confirmed they were briefed by Mayor Bill LaFortune on bid plans that included substantial cash incentives, which would require approval by Tulsa County voters. But LaFortune has declined to say whether Tulsa plans to submit a proposal to Boeing.

Boeing already employs about 1,000 workers at a manufacturing plant located at the former Air Force Plant No. 3 at Tulsa International Airport.

Boeing spokeswoman Mary Hanson in Seattle declined to say how many states have indicated they plan to submit proposals. They have until Friday to submit a bid.

Sen. Maxine Horner, D-Tulsa, said she was briefed recently on the Boeing project, along with plans to provide incentives to American Airlines. Horner, chairwoman of the Senate Business and Labor Committee, said she supports the effort.

``Anything that Tulsa can do to move forward to certainly keep American here and possibly get Boeing would be vital to the city,'' Horner said.

A site, assuming the company decides to build the jet, will be chosen later this year.

Washington, Texas and Arkansas are among the states submitting bids for the plant that could create 800 to 1,200 jobs, the newspaper reported.

In Washington, where Boeing is the state's largest employer, the legislature approved $400 million in tax credits aimed at enticing the aviation company to build the 7E7 there.

Other incentives in Washington reportedly include approval of a $4.2 billion, 10-year transportation plan designed to improve Boeing's freight-hauling capacity, in addition to $10 million to construct a pier near Boeing's plant in Everett.

Meanwhile, San Antonio officials are doing their part to lure the 7E7 to Texas. The city council there has approved measures aimed at saving Boeing millions of dollars associated with its current San Antonio plant. San Antonio is one of four Texas cities reportedly submitting site proposals to Boeing.

Arkansas officials are among the few actually talking about their plans to compete for the 7E7. Site proposals will be submitted for communities in the central, northeast and northwest part of the state, Arkansas Department of Economic Development spokesman Andy Mayberry said.

Arkansas lawmakers haven't approved any specific measures designed to land the 7E7. But initiatives approved in recent years make it easier to target certain industries and allow neighboring counties to work together on economic development projects.

Also, Arkansas voters will be asked in November 2004 to approve a constitutional amendment that would create a so-called super project fund, which would allow for up to $166 million in bonds that could be used to finance infrastructure improvements for businesses that add at least 500 jobs and invest $500 million.


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