By Matt Tomsic
Published April 9, 2013
State Sen. Hugh Leatherman reached across the rostrum on the state Senate floor around noon today to submit a bill to issue $120 million in bonds for site development needed by the Boeing Co. as it adds 2,000 jobs and invests another $1 billion during the next eight years.
“We are going to be talking about something extremely important,” Leatherman said from the Senate floor before he highlighted the job creation statistics. “(One thousand) of those will be engineers, and engineers generally in this kind of industry have a minimum salary of $100,000 a year. In addition to that, another 1,000 jobs will be information technology. Boeing is saying that this will be their information technology center of excellence.”
“I think this definitely shows we’re committed to this state.”
— Jack Jones, VP for Boeing South Carolina
The bill was referred to the Finance Committee and was put together by Leatherman, a Florence Republican, and House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston.
Jack Jones, vice president for Boeing South Carolina, said the company anticipates those 2,000 jobs to be more technical, including IT workers and engineers, though the aerospace giant could hire more manufacturing technicians as well. Jones said the additions could be incremental or may come in chunks, noting Boeing reached its employment goal under the last bond package in three years.
“I think this definitely shows we’re committed to this state,” Jones said. “They’ve been good to us, and we definitely feel we’ve been good for them. This is just further validation that we think we’ve got a good business model moving forward.”
At the SpeedNews aerospace manufacturing conference in Charleston, Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said the bond bill is a progression from the original $250 million bond bill passed when Boeing first decided to open a second assembly line in South Carolina.
“What this is today is a validation of all the decisions made by Boeing, made by the state four or five years ago,” Hitt said.
Also at the aerospace conference, Gov. Nikki Haley said the bond bill was team South Carolina at work.
“This is family,” Haley said, adding the expansion wouldn’t have happened without the work already done by Boeing’s roughly 6,000 employees. “When family does well, we get excited.”
Haley said the state can’t cite a statistic for the benefits Boeing has brought to the state and to the Lowcountry.
“I don’t think there’s any price you can put on (it),” Haley said. “This was priceless in terms of making sure the aerospace industry was going to call South Carolina home.”