Seattle Times series commemorates 100 years of The Boeing Company

For anyone interested in what Boeing has meant, means now, and will mean to Washington, the Seattle Times recently provided some answers. In a series of articles recognizing Boeing’s 100th year, the Times provides some valuable perspective on the aerospace company’s presence in Washington.

Business writer Blanca Torres reports on how “in good times and bad, Boeing’s force field has shaped the region’s fortunes.”

Boeing, more than any other company over the past century, has shaped and bolstered the Puget Sound economy by providing tens of thousands of jobs, helping mold the region’s business culture and putting Seattle on the map as a technology and export center…

As state officials reported this spring that Boeing had saved $305 million in state taxes last year through Washington’s aerospace tax incentives, the company reported the other side of that coin: In 2015, it spent $13 billion in Washington on payroll, supplier purchases and capital investments.

But its economic impact stretches further, fueling an aerospace sector that in 2014 generated 93,400 direct jobs at Boeing and supplier companies, and an estimated $59.5 billion in gross revenues in the state, according to a study for the Washington Aerospace Partnership.

Even as the economy has grown and diversified, Torres reports,

“It is still one of the few remaining places where those without a college education can provide a middle-class lifestyle for their families,” said Leon Grunberg, professor emeritus at the University of Puget Sound and a co-author of two book-length studies of Boeing and its workforce.

She also notes that those jobs remain highly valued by other states and regions that would like to expand their economies. 

But the company remains such a large player in Washington that keeping those high-skilled, good-paying jobs, especially in manufacturing, is a priority for many elected officials.

“The state tax breaks are not a handout. This isn’t money we have in the bank that we are giving to the company,” [Alex] Pietsch [board president of the Washington Aerospace Partnership and Gov. Inslee’s former aerospace adviser] said. “This is a little less money they are paying in taxes than they would theoretically have to pay. … This tax incentive was not as much about growing jobs as keeping the industry that we already have.”

The story documents well some of the ups and downs of a firm and industry that has seen rapid change in technology and in the global marketplace. 

Aerospace reporter Dominic Gates takes a look at “10 people who helped shape Boeing’s history.” In Part 1 he interviews Craig Dupler, Alan Mulally, Dave Huntman, and Charlie Grieser. Part 2 features John Lopez Jr.,  Carolyn Corvi, and Jim Albaugh. In Part 3, Gates discusses the company with Phil Condit, Joe Sutter and Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann. The variety of perspectives and insights make the interviews lively and informative.

Gates also reports a discussion Ray Conner, Boeing Commercial Airlines CEO, had with journalists at Boeing’s UK headquarters ahead of today’s opening of Farnborough Air Show.

The Times also provides two looks at the 100-year timeline that neatly documents the evolution of the firm (interactive), effectively the evolution of an industry.

It’s a tale of innovation, resilience, and productivity; a tale of a corporation that has helped build the state, regional and global economies. Washingtonians take pride in the home team and congratulate the men and women who contributed to its success. 

As we’ve written, lawmakers can point to a remarkable return on investment from policies that have encouraged Boeing to remain and invest in Washington.