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Originally published September 29, 2009 at 4:40 PM | Page modified October 1, 2009 at 7:32 AM

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Corrected version

Boeing seeks permits to build quickly in Charleston

Boeing has filed building permits indicating it could begin clearing land in Charleston, S.C. as early as November 2 — if it decides to locate the production line there.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter; Times aerospace reporter

Boeing could begin clearing land in Charleston, S.C., as early as Nov. 2 for a second 787 Dreamliner final-assembly plant, according to building permits filed by the company.

The plane-maker has said it will decide by year-end whether Charleston or Everett will be the site of its second 787 production line. It announced in August it would apply for building permits in advance of making its choice.

Although the dates cited in the permit filings suggest the decision might come as early as October, Boeing spokeswoman Yvonne Leach said Tuesday that "regardless of the dates in the filings, we are giving ourselves until the end of the year."

The permit applications, reported by Charleston's Post and Courier newspaper, seek approval to construct a building measuring 450 feet by 1,600 feet, or 16.5 acres, and to clear 82 acres of land for surrounding parking and taxiways.

In August, Boeing officials described the permits they intended to file as "a procedural step" and insisted the permits didn't mean a decision had already been made.

"Filing at this time is necessary because the permitting process is comprehensive and requires substantial lead time," Boeing's head of labor relations, Doug Kight, told employees Aug. 26.

The Everett site where Boeing assembles all its wide-body jets covers more than 1,000 acres. The main assembly building has a 98-acre footprint divided into six long assembly bays.

The first 787 final-assembly line, inside the easternmost bay, is just over 350 feet wide and 1,600 feet long.

Bill McSherry, special adviser on aerospace to Gov. Chris Gregoire, said in an interview Monday he believes Boeing could fit a second 787 line inside the Everett building by rearranging the layout of current jet-assembly operations.

Gregoire said Tuesday that losing the second line to another state would not be the end of aerospace in Washington.

She said Washington has made a compelling financial case for keeping 787 production here, including an existing multibillion-dollar tax and incentive package.

Boeing officials, she said, now consider that part of the case closed.

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"With regard to the second 787, there was a) very clear statement made to me: There's nothing more that you can do. We are on the road to making a decision; everything that is on the table is on the table," Gregoire said.

Gregoire clearly is prepared for the possibility South Carolina may win. While vowing not to give up, on Tuesday she repeatedly played up how robust the state's aerospace industry would be without a second 787 line.

"If we should, beyond my control, lose that second 787, I'm not throwing up my hands," Gregoire said.

The new 787 facility would mean up to 900 jobs, she said, compared with an estimated 80,000 aerospace-industry jobs in Washington now.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

The Associated Press contributed reporting on Gregoire's remarks.

This story was originally published Sept. 29 and corrected Sept. 30. The original story said that Boeing was seeking approval to construct a building encompassing 12 acres. The correct figure is 16.5 acres.

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