Region looks to soar with Boeing

Workshop focused on helping local firms enter aerospace supply chain

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian Port & Economy Reporter

Published:

 

What: "Come Fly With Us: How to Fit into the Aerospace Supply Chain" workshop

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4

Where: Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. 5th St. Vancouver

Cost: $20 per person (includes lunch and beverages)

Register: Come Fly With Us: How to Fit into the Aerospace Supply Chain

What: “Come Fly With Us: How to Fit into the Aerospace Supply Chain” workshop

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4

Where: Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. 5th St. Vancouver

Cost: $20 per person (includes lunch and beverages)

Register: Come Fly With Us: How to Fit into the Aerospace Supply Chain

It’s no secret that Clark County economic development leaders want to enlarge the region’s role in Boeing Co.’s lucrative supply chain.

But how, exactly, does a company become a supplier to the aerospace giant and longtime anchor of Washington state’s economy?

It’s a question the Vancouver-based Columbia River Economic Development Council — the nonprofit business recruiter and jobs promoter — hopes to answer next week with a workshop aimed at helping companies diversify into the aerospace industry.

The workshop, “Come Fly With Us: How to Fit into the Aerospace Supply Chain,” will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at Pearson Air Museum. The cost is $20 per person, and includes lunch and beverages.

Janice Greene, senior manager of supplier diversity for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, will deliver the workshop’s keynote address, according to Lisa Nisenfeld, president and CEO of the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

What’s more, a panel of existing local suppliers will discuss what it takes to be successful and profitable in the aerospace supply chain.

The workshop is part of a larger initiative to increase the competitiveness of the Portland-Vancouver metro area in equipping the aerospace industry. That includes a plan to recruit suppliers of Boeing from Wichita, Kan., where the company will close its defense plant by the end of 2013.

The company has said about half of its 2,000-plus Wichita workforce will be offered jobs in Oklahoma City or San Antonio, while others will be relocated to the Seattle area, according to the Wichita Business Journal.

In January, during a luncheon held by the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce, Nisenfeld said a task force had been formed to recruit Boeing suppliers from Wichita and to help existing suppliers in the Portland-Vancouver area expand.

The task force includes officials from the Columbia River Economic Development Council, the city of Gresham, Ore. — where Boeing has a parts facility — Cowlitz

County and Greater Portland Inc., a private sector-led business promoter of the Portland-Vancouver area.

In addition to its parts facility in Gresham, Boeing has a subsidiary — Insitu Inc., the unmanned aircraft maker — that’s based in Bingen, with one of its offices in east Vancouver. Insitu employs about 800 people making drones for military and surveillance operations, and in December announced plans to expand its production and testing operations in Bingen.

Earlier this month, the Columbia River Economic Development Council sent a staff member to Seattle to attend the Aerospace and Defense Suppliers Summit, Nisenfeld said.

The sold-out show — which had never been held in Washington state before — featured opening remarks by Gov. Chris Gregoire and attracted 1,500 aerospace industry delegates from around the world, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

“For us it was a learning expedition,” Nisenfeld said. “There are other areas of the state that are immersed in aerospace, but we have not been. We needed to get our name out there that we’re interested. We want to be a player, and we need to learn the ropes.”

Nisenfeld said the region’s role in Boeing’s future isn’t well-defined. Next week’s workshop is intended to help change that as regional leaders move to expand the impact of Boeing in the area.

“As this work evolves, we’ll be able to understand our region’s niche better,” she said. “That’s what leads to a well-informed recruitment campaign.”

Any company looking to do business within the aerospace supply chain is welcome to attend the workshop, including software companies, machine shops and plastics manufacturers, and research-and-development firms.

There will be plenty of follow-up after the workshop, Nisenfeld said, with the CREDC keeping track of participating companies and sending staff to help them to “network, secure financing, whatever it is they need” to pursue work within the aerospace industry.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ; http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com

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