St. Louis County Council approves tax incentives for Boeing’s Labor-endorsed $1.8B expansion project

THE ST. LOUIS COUNTY COUNCIL has approved a package of tax incentives for Boeing Co.’s Labor-endorsed $1.8 billion expansion project.


St. Louis County Council members approved tax incentives Sept. 19 that The Boeing Co. says are critical to a proposed $1.8 billion expansion project that would create 500 jobs.

The vote on the ordinance was four-to-one, with Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway (Dist. 2) voting no. County Council Chair Shalonda Webb (Dist. 4) abstained from voting because she is a Boeing employee, and Councilman Dennis Hancock was absent.

Boeing has confirmed that it’s competing with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for the contracts to build the U.S. Navy’s secretive next-generation fighter jet program. Defense News reported earlier this year that the U.S. Air Force plans to award a contract for its Next Generation Air Dominance platform in 2024.

Boeing’s plan calls for construction of multiple buildings totaling one million square feet that St. Louis Lambert International Airport would lease to Boeing, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The city’s Airport Commission has approved the lease agreement and is awaiting approval from the Board of Aldermen.

In a statement, Boeing thanked council members for their decision, leadership and partnership in expanding the St. Louis region’s aerospace manufacturing industry footprint.

“This vote will help us offer cost competitive proposals, marking the first step toward bringing more high-paying jobs to the Greater St. Louis area. We look forward to continuing to work with our collaborating partners on the next steps of this project,” the corporation said.

St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White praised the decision for the amount of work and jobs the expansion would create.

“It’s a lot of work, not only just construction, but suppliers and 500 more good Machinists jobs over there,” White said.

The Boeing expansion 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.

“We’ve met with the Boeing folks a couple of times and it helps that they’ve got a plan together to try to get this thing built,” White said “It’s going to be every bit as big as the NGA. It’s $2 billion worth of construction.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Boeing wants to lease about 158 acres from Lambert for its expansion. Under the proposal, Boeing would pay at least $2.63 million a year for the lease. Nearly 110 acres in the lease are on the eastern end of the airport in Berkeley, and most of the remainder is on Lambert’s northern end. The agreement also gives Boeing the option of leasing an additional 28 acres for about $369,000 a year.

If Boeing builds the expansion, the Ferguson-Florissant School District would get roughly $79 million over the decade. The city of Berkeley would collect an estimated $18 million.

St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said the incentive package demonstrates the county’s commitment to growing the regional economy, expanding career opportunities, and building on the county’s priorities to invest in North County. The “vote shows St. Louis County’s commitment to growing our economy, expanding career opportunities, and building on our priorities to invest in North County.

“Landing this deal will bolster St. Louis County’s brand as a national leader in the defense industry. Approving these incentives demonstrates to the federal government that Boeing has the support of the community and the financial wherewithal to create the facilities needed for this nearly $2 billion project,” Page said.

Boeing largely builds defense products in the St. Louis region, including the F-15, F/A-18 fighter jets, the T-7A trainer, and the MQ-25 refueling drone at sites in St. Louis County, St. Charles and Mascoutah.

But the Pentagon has been phasing out purchases of Boeing’s legacy fighters to focus on the next generation. Boeing has said it is winding down the F/A-18 program, with new production ending in 2025 unless it receives more orders from the Indian Navy.

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