Aerospace market growth propels Washington economy

SEATTLE, 9 July 2007. Boeing's newest plane rolled out of the hangar for the first time on July 8 -- an example of how Washington state's aerospace industry is climbing to new heights.

Washington manufacturing employment showed healthy gains last year and early this year in contrast to the national picture, thanks in large part to the state's extensive aerospace business. Washington is not done yet, according to economists and aerospace observers.

Aerospace employment grew in Washington by 1,700 jobs during the first quarter this year, according to the state's Employment Security Department, putting it on pace for 8.9 percent annual growth. Economists expect the state to add another 1,000 to 1,200 aerospace manufacturing jobs per quarter this year after growing by 6,100 jobs (8.9 percent) in 2006.

Washington is the world's number one aerospace location. The state's aerospace industry accounts for more than $36 billion in business.

Last year's aerospace employment increase in Washington represented more than a quarter of the 23,000 aerospace jobs gained nationwide, according to Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) data.

Washington has placed considerable emphasis on supporting its 650 aerospace companies statewide -- including implementing special tax programs for aerospace manufacturers -- and attracting more. Six of the 11 companies Governor Gregoire met with during the 2005 Paris Air Show opened or expanded facilities in Washington, including Goodrich Aerostructures, Messier Dowty, Fokker Elmo, Rolls Royce, GE (Smiths), and Messier Bugatti.

Goodrich Aerostructures Integration Services, Inc. is one of several companies investing in Washington, opening a 140,000 square-foot nacelle integration and assembly facility in Everett that will add 80 jobs. QPM Aerospace of Bellevue purchased space it once leased and is buying $7 million in new equipment. Toray Composites (America) Inc. invested $42 million in equipment upgrades and added 80 new employees to produce carbon fiber for the 787.

Fokker Elmo Inc. of Kent also plans to grow. Production demands for Boeing's 737 have the company anticipating that it will double the size of its office this year and expand five fold over the next few years.

"The industry is getting leaner, more productive, more able to compete in the global economy, and that tells you that this strong growth that you see in our industry is likely to continue well into the beginning of the next decade," AIA President and CEO John Douglass told an industry gathering earlier this year.

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