An expanded Boeing Co. plant in the St. Louis area could bring jobs, residents and retail to the Union area.
State lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a plan offering up to $1.7 billion in incentives over more than two decades if Boeing agrees to assemble a highly sought-after passenger plane in the St. Louis area.
Community Development Director Joseph Graves said that could positively impact Union and Franklin County.
“Not only will there be jobs at Boeing itself, but also jobs at suppliers and third-tier companies that do work for suppliers,” he said.
The incentives will be a key part of Missouri’s bid for the Boeing 777X jetliner in a competition featuring more than a dozen states from coast to coast — many of which, like Missouri, already have a sizable Boeing work force.
The aerospace giant plans to announce a decision by early next year, according to an Associated Press report.
“There are a cluster of tool, die and machine shops in this area, and a lot of those shops currently work for suppliers of Boeing,” Graves said. “If the 777X is built in St. Louis, I can only see that work increase, which translates into more jobs.
“The city of Union and all of Franklin County would benefit immensely,” he added.
Graves further added that his department would work to attract contractors and other businesses that may move into the area if Boeing opens a 777X plant.
“We would try to leverage all of our relationships to put our industrial site in front of those decision makers,” he said.
Graves noted that a new industry, or an increased population due to new employment opportunities, would be followed by retail development.
“Retail growth follows rooftops,” he said. “If a major supplier comes to Union, or anywhere in the county, we would see an increase in population and a flourish of commercial activity.”
The Missouri House voted 127-20 to pass the legislation after a one-week special session called by Gov. Jay Nixon for the sole purpose of crafting a package for Boeing. The Senate passed the bill 23-8 on Wednesday, according to the AP.
Boeing Co. already makes military aircraft in the St. Louis area and employs about 15,000 people in Missouri.
The proposed incentives would come from an expansion of four existing state programs that base the amount of aid on the number of jobs businesses add.
A gain of 2,000 jobs — an amount associated with the production of the airplane’s wings — could result in an aggregate of $435 million of incentives by 2040. But if Boeing picks Missouri to assemble the full plane, the state could gain about 8,000 jobs, and Boeing could get $1.74 billion of incentives over that same period.
An analysis released by Nixon’s administration predicts that Missouri would gain more in tax revenues than it would give away in incentives under any of the job-growth scenarios. That’s partly because the Boeing facility is presumed to result in thousands of additional jobs for construction workers and for other businesses that supply aircraft parts.
Besides the state incentives, Missouri’s offer also includes local aid from St. Louis-area governments, an agreement among community colleges to provide specialized training and a pledge by local construction unions to build the Boeing facility quickly by working around the clock without overtime pay.