Boeing, Amazon and maintaining a healthy business climate for sustained economic vitality

Several recent editorials and commentaries remind us again that competition for economic development never slows down. Unsurprisingly, at the center of the discussion are two corporate pillars of the state economy.

The Seattle Times editorial board urges state leaders to “work to land Boeing’s 797.

Washington state and the aerospace industry are eagerly awaiting Boeing’s decision on whether to build a new midmarket plane that some have dubbed the 797.

The region’s leaders should not wait, however, to begin a full-court press to be sure that plane is built in the Puget Sound area.

The editorial notes that public policy helped build and secure the state’s aerospace cluster in the past. (Stuff like this doesn’t help.) Proactive public policy will also likely play a role in the next round of decision making. 

Washingtonians are deeply invested in supporting Boeing and its new generation of fuel-efficient planes. Tax preferences extending to 2040 helped secure the Everett production of Boeing’s upcoming 777X and facilities to build its carbon-fiber composite wing…

State and local officials must be pre-emptive, not reactive, and anticipate what’s needed to retain and grow key employers. This was the lesson of Amazon’s abrupt decision to build a second headquarters elsewhere.

Efforts are underway, the editorial notes, and a coalition of industry, labor, and government leaders will be making the pitch. Yet, 

…the sense of urgency isn’t clear to the broader community…

…there is no time to lose. The short 2018 legislative session is just five weeks away, leaving little time to act on any requests by a coalition yet to be formed.

One opportunity may be providing new workforce-training. Potential 797 work should be factored into efforts to boost internships, technical schools and community colleges.

Winning the competition for the next plane is important to the state’s economy and expanding career opportunities for Washingtonians.

Reminding Boeing that this continues to be the smartest and most lucrative place to build next-generation products and services must be a top priority for Washington’s leadership.

 The editorial comes at a time when some Seattleites appear to be more concerned with bemoaning job creation and investment than with nurturing it. Brian Bonlender, director of the Washington Department of Commerce, challenges that view in a timely op-ed in the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Since Amazon’s announcement of a planned second headquarters (HQ2), there seems to be a tendency to use the online giant to explain away some of our most pressing regional challenges…
Our thriving economy is bringing additional people who buy homes and use our transportation systems, and we have Amazon along with every other growing company to thank for that. But the problem isn’t too many jobs, and the solution is definitely not to blame our job-creating engines.
We encourage you to read Bonlender’s commentary, which properly notes the region’s housing and transportation challenges. And points out that they’ve been building for years. He writes,
…to lay all of the region’s problems at Amazon’s feet is as lazy as it is wrong-headed. 
The editorial and op-ed are particularly apt as some commentators see signs of a possible slowdown in the regional economy. Washington and metro Seattle have enjoyed a long and enviable period of rapid economic growth, one that has opened the doors of opportunity for many. That’s a good thing, and it cannot be taken for granted.