St. Louis County Council advances Boeing expansion with Labor’s support


The St. Louis County Council advanced a proposal Aug. 14 to give the Boeing Co. tax incentives for a nearly $2 billion project for construction of a new advanced manufacturing facility to produce “future franchise programs” that could include next-generation fighter jets for the Pentagon.

It would be one of the biggest defense projects in the region’s history topping the more than the $1.7 billion budget for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) headquarters in north St. Louis, which is currently under construction.

“This is key to significantly growing our advanced manufacturing capabilities at the site,” Randell Gelzer, Boeing’s senior director of state and local government operations, told St. Louis County Council members. “This will allow us to compete for those next franchise programs in St. Louis.”

The St. Louis Labor Council endorsed passage of the expansion package, noting the creation of good union jobs in construction and operation of the new facility, as well as support jobs in other industries that would be created by the new plant.

“We, as a whole, feel that this will enhance manufacturing in the area and will support many well-paying, well benefitted union jobs,” said Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council.

“We testified in favor of this along with Machinists Local 837, which represents workers at Boeing, as well as the Urban League and others.

“This is going to be a new tax,” White said of the revenue that would be impacted by the tax incentives., “Anything the county gets is going to be an addition  to what it is already receiving,” he said.

John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades, said the project would be a huge win for the building trades.

Boeing moved closer to securing the land it needs for the project Aug. 16 when the St. Louis City Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved plans to lease the company roughly 160 acres at a cost of at least $2.6 million per year for 17 years. Boeing would have options to continue the lease in five-year increments through 2070.

Boeing has said it will hire 500 new workers for the project, which would create and estimated 1,000 new support jobs – a two-to-one ratio – at other companies in the region.


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