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Originally published September 29, 2009 at 4:38 PM | Page modified September 29, 2009 at 6:46 PM

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Gov. Gregoire lays out the case for building 787s in Washington

Gov. Chris Gregoire lets independent analysts build the case for keeping all assembly of Boeing's 787 line in Washington.

GOV. Chris Gregoire's strong case for building all Boeing 787s in this state cannot be a surprise for aerospace executives, but the details stand to be repeated. Often.

The governor's report Monday documented strength in the state's business climate, quality work force, commitment to education, and government and community support. And, most centrally, Boeing's low production risks.

Washington is in a heated competition with South Carolina and other contenders — North Carolina, Texas, California and Kansas — to land a second 787 assembly line. The governor lets others make the arguments.

Forbes magazine rates Washington's business climate second in the nation. On a variety of other tax and business-environment indexes, Washington is either the outright leader or compares favorably with the competition. This state's unemployment insurance fund is one of the strongest in the country. South Carolina's is insolvent.

For some, the governor's report had a certain, aah, CYA quality — a political not economic document. We can go with CYA: cataloging your assets. Washington, in the opinion of independent analysts, is a solid place to do business.

Washington is simply the best place to build airplanes, and build them at a competitive cost. As Boeing struggles with the expensive consequences of dispersing the manufacture of complex pieces of an ultra-complex product, why compound the delays and span-of-control issues by scattering assembly?

All the elements are here in place, in the hands of a skilled work force and a regional network of aerospace subcontractors. Training and research cannot be matched. Why start over somewhere else?

The answer has boiled down to labor relations. As the governor notes, only Boeing and the unions can truly negotiate labor-management agreements. Supportive, concerned parties like our state's political leaders must and can promote a positive environment.

Boeing has to acknowledge the value of a trained, skilled work force. Boeing literally had to buy a company in South Carolina to try and halt sloppy work.

Labor must act with enlightened self-interest. Do what it takes, including extending existing contracts, to protect, preserve and grow good jobs. Look beyond the end of one contract.

Starting over to try and duplicate what already exists in Washington wastes time and money better invested in building the world's best planes.

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