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Mon, Nov 17, 2003

Small Washington Town Woos Boeing

But Does Moses Lake Have The Right Stuff?

Moses Lake (WA) has had some pretty big dreams in the past. Like the time town officials thought Moses Lake might someday become home to the Supercollider. Or when they vyed for the chance to become a landing site for a commercial space venture. Oh, there was also the time they thought Moses Lake would be the perfect place to build amphibious assault craft for the Marine Corps. There was even talk of making Moses Lake home to the production of ethanol, an alternative fuel.

Alas, none of those projects ever came to fruition.

Now, Moses Lake has its eyes on the Dreamliner, Boeing's 7E7. Moses Lake wants to be home to the new aircraft's manufacturing plant.

The town is not alone.

Moses Lake is one of two locations proposed by Washington state to satisfy Boeing's shopping list of concessions it wants from a new manufacturing headquarters. The plant is expected to create 1,200 jobs wherever it lands.

"We've put together what we think is a very competitive proposal," said David Senne, executive manager of the Port of Moses Lake. The Tacoma (WA) News-Tribune reports Senne and company think they have an edge. They're offering Boeing:

  • Cheap, plentiful electrical power
  • Fiber-optic cable
  • Land
  • An airport with a 13,500-foot runway
  • New sewage treatment facilities
  • A 50-year history with Boeing

Many of these items are indeed on Boeing's list of things it wants in place before it commits to a plant that will build the Dreamliner.

That runway could be a big factor. Boeing is very familiar with it. The B-52 and B-47 both made their first landings at Moses Lake. JAL uses the facility to train its 747 pilots. There's a lot of hangar space at the former military base. It could satisfy Boeing's requirements for runway length and hangar space, given that the company wants to fly in Dreamliner components from all over the world.

In spite of all that, Al Anderson, who works at the Port of Moses Lake, can't say whether he thinks his town has a shot at this latest adventure. "The competition isn't Everett," he said of the other site Washington state is offering to Boeing. The competition isn't South Carolina or Texas, he said. "The competition is Airbus. And we've got to keep that in mind all the time - for Boeing."

FMI: www.boeing.com

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