JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri was in the running to land a new Boeing airplane assembly plant right up until the final moments when the company decided to make the plane in Washington state, according to documents released Monday.
The records confirm Missouri not only offered billions of dollars of tax incentives to the aerospace company, but also pledged to build special highway interchanges and shut down a public golf course to make way for a Boeing facility on land near the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
The documents provided to The Associated Press under a Sunshine Law request show Boeing officials visited St. Louis on Dec. 28 to check out Missouri’s proposal. A follow-up visit was scheduled for Jan. 4.
But that was canceled after union members in Washington voted Jan. 3 to accept Boeing’s contract proposal. Boeing then quickly announced that it would assemble the 777X commercial airplane in the Seattle area, its traditional operating base.
Boeing had generated frenzy among states about a month earlier by soliciting proposals for the multibillion-dollar airplane assembly plant after union machinists in Washington rejected the company’s initial contract offer. Nearly two dozen states submitted more than 50 proposed locations to Boeing in mid-December.
The company never publicly released a list of finalists for the project and has no plans to do so, Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said Monday.
But “Boeing had considerably narrowed its list of contenders at that point,” Alder said. “We were highly engaged with everyone that was still in the process. … It was very serious.”
Missouri’s state and local incentive package, totaling more than $3 billion, was aired publicly because Gov. Jay Nixon called a special legislative session to change the state’s business incentive laws to accommodate such a big project. But the governor and economic development officials had said a confidentiality agreement signed with Boeing prevented them from divulging other specific details about Missouri’s bid for the assembly plant.
The AP submitted an open-records request for the documents after Boeing announced it was staying in Washington. The Department of Economic Development was able to release the records because they no longer dealt with an active proposal.
Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said Monday that the governor “is very proud of the efforts that made Missouri one of the finalists.” The unsuccessful bid “sent a strong message” that “we are always going to compete” for high-paying jobs, he said.
The documents show Missouri submitted three options to Boeing to assemble the wing or full plane at either of two locations near Lambert airport.