Washington drops in “aerospace manufacturing attractiveness” in new global research report

A new report from PwC, the 2015 Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness Rankings, shows Washington has fallen in the rankings. 

Washington State fell from #3 to #12. Washington was #7 in industry rank and #10 in education, but in the bottom half in terms of operating cost and taxes. 

The study contains both international rankings – the U.S. ranks #1 globally – and interstate rankings. The top 5 states, in order, are: Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Utah and Virginia. 

These things are debatable, as PwC points out: 

While this ranking by no means suggests the ‘best places’ for aerospace manufacturing, given that companies’ individual criteria for locating in a geographical area vary so widely—it does, however, provide an interesting view on the wide diversity of options to locate sites and/or R&D facilities— most especially for those suppliers which do not need to be based near OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers].

Echoing Opportunity Washington’s “achieve” priority, PwC also notes:

Thriving in the new competitive landscape means nurturing today’s workforce to satisfy backlog demand for aircraft and to meet demand for the next generation of more efficient, sustainable aircraft. Growing and diversifying this workforce is fundamental to securing the competitiveness of US commercial aviation manufacturing in a globalized market. 

The PwC analysis prompted some critical discussion here, as reported in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

“I think there’s plenty of evidence the aerospace companies are growing, expanding and new ones are locating here in Washington,” said Alex Pietsch director of the state office of aerospace.

The study, Pietsch said, fails to take into account Boeing’s importance in attracting aerospace companies to the region.

Part of the reason for the drop is that the new PWC report created a new ranking based on the “effective” tax rate for each state, which includes aerospace tax incentives.

In that category Washington fell just below the median, 28th among the 50 states.

This, the PSBJ notes, despite the incentive package lawmakers passed to secure the 777X program. (The value of that package has arguably been highly overstated.)

While the rankings may be debatable, the importance of aerospace manufacturing to our state is not. The sector has been and, if properly nurtured, long will be critical to the state economy, providing economic opportunity to Washingtonians for years to come.