Editorial: Fly Alabama — How much will we, can we, pay for Boeing?
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 09, 2013 | 1969 views |  0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this artist's concept provided by The Boeing Co. is the 777-9X, the largest of the aerospace company's new family of 777X jetliners. Boeing currently has more than a dozen states in competition from coast to coast offering property, billions of dollars of tax breaks, favorable labor deals and customized employee training hoping that Boeing will choose them to assemble its new 777X jetliner. Photo: The Boeing Co./The Associated Press
In this artist's concept provided by The Boeing Co. is the 777-9X, the largest of the aerospace company's new family of 777X jetliners. Boeing currently has more than a dozen states in competition from coast to coast offering property, billions of dollars of tax breaks, favorable labor deals and customized employee training hoping that Boeing will choose them to assemble its new 777X jetliner. Photo: The Boeing Co./The Associated Press
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Like major league teams lining up to bid for an all-star free agent, states are lining up to make an offer for one of the biggest industrial plums to come along in ages.

The airplane giant Boeing is considering a move out of Washington state for its multi-billion-dollar industry. In an era when the country is hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs, Boeing has states “groveling” (according to MSN Money) at the company’s feet.

“Groveling” may not be the appropriate word, but a lot of money and incentives are being offered.

In Missouri, the governor called a special legislative session where a bipartisan effort put a two-decade, $1.7 billion package on the table.

Utah has contacted the company to point out that Boeing won’t have the “union problems” it had in Washington state. Utah is a so-called right-to-work state with the youngest labor force in the country. In addition, Boeing already has a 850,000-square-foot factory in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas are expected to make offers before today’s deadline. Washington state is preparing a proposal designed to keep the company where it is.

And then there is Alabama.

Gov. Robert Bentley promises that we will have “a good proposal” for Boeing, an offer that will include a trained and trainable workforce, a friendly relationship with the company that goes back more than 50 years, and an economic climate where unions are weak, if they exist at all. Low taxes and a minimum of government interference in the way a company does business has been an Alabama selling point for decades. Those will surely be the first things we offer Boeing. But that will never be enough.

There will have to be incentives, and Alabama is hardly new to the incentive game.

In 1993, Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. put together a $250 million package to lure Mercedes-Benz. In 2012, city, county and state governments coughed up $158 million to bring Airbus into Mobile County. We can’t forget the incentives that brought in Honda and Hyundai.

It is not just the cash. The state could also help bond expenses, offer tax breaks, promise site and road improvements, cover building costs and worker training. But incentives aren’t reserved only for the big guys.

In Hoover, the Riverchase Galleria recently received $25 million to help lure new stores, while a peanut candy maker in Troy got $700,000 in various breaks and assistance to help that business grow. And don’t forget the maker of customized dog collars in Opp, which governments helped to the turn of $150,000.

According to The New York Times, Alabama spends around $277 million a year on incentives to bring in industry. That comes out to about $137 that every working taxpayer puts into the endeavor.

Should Boeing relocate to Alabama, it will undoubtedly cost the state money — which may cause the state to cut more from its budget or take out loans to cover the cost. A Boeing deal for Alabama has its positives, but it’s laughable that state and its lawmakers can find ways to lure in job-creating corporations, but it can’t find ways to properly fund Alabamians’ everyday needs.
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