California joins race for Boeing jet plant

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LONG BEACH, Calif. — California is one of at least a half-dozen states vying for Boeing's attention as the aircraft giant selects a production site for its new 400-seat 777X jetliner.

A deal to bring the facility to California could create thousands of jobs and resuscitate the once-vibrant Southern California aerospace industry.

Boeing Co. solicited bids from a number of states in November. Officials in Alabama, California, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Utah are among those who have spoken publicly about wooing the firm with economic incentive packages worth millions of dollars.

California officials are tight-lipped about what they are offering, but the stakes are high. Boeing announced in September that it would cease production of its C-17 Globemaster III military cargo jet in 2015 and shutter its Long Beach production facility, which provides 3,000 jobs and has been a backbone of the regional economy.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Fairfax, Va.-based Teal Group, said California might have an uphill battle sealing a deal to build the 777X, despite the benefits available in Long Beach.

Boeing might instead prefer to sell its property there and profit from high real estate prices, he said.

"You have expensive real estate, tight labor supply, union issues, environmental regulations and geographic constraints. No one's really thinking, 'Oh, it's perfect for large, heavy scale manufacturing,'" Aboulafia said.

Still, the office of Gov. Jerry Brown has worked closely with Long Beach officials to put together a strong incentive package, said Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, who declined to provide details.

The city is near a deep-water Pacific port, rail lines and an airport, he said, and already has a trained aerospace workforce.