January 23, 2012
The Boeing Co. .. earlier this announced plans to close its Wichita defense site in 2013 and move at least some of that work to the Puget Sound area — a move that has some in the Pacific Northwest targeting the company’s local supply base.
Economic development officials in Clark County, Wash., are working with their counterparts in neighboring Oregon to strengthen Boeing’s regional supply chain as the aerospace giant continues to ramp up its operations there.
And according to a report from The Columbian newspaper, Wichita is in their crosshairs.
Lisa Nisenfeld, president and CEO of the Vancouver, Wash.-based Columbia River Economic Development Council says part of the regional expansion plan includes recruiting Wichita suppliers and soon-to-be former Boeing employees to the area.
Others involved in the recruitment effort are the city of Gresham, Ore. — already home to a Boeing parts facility — economic development officials in Cowlitz County, Wash., and a private business promotional firm called Greater Portland Inc.
Gabe Schlickau, president of the Wichita Manufacturing Association, told the Wichita Business Journal earlier this month that most of the local suppliers he has talked with felt that they could keep their work contracts with Boeing even after the company leaves town.
As long as there are aircraft suppliers in Wichita, the city will have a close relationship with Boeing, and Boeing is on record saying it plans to increase the amount of money it spends with Kansas suppliers.
But local economic development officials and the heads of local aviation companies have said for years that other cities and states are constantly trying to woo away pieces of Wichita’s aviation cluster.
The efforts of the group in the Pacific Northwest may signal that those potential suitors now smell blood in the water.