University economist: Boeing elevates state's profile

A transformative move for South Carolina. That is how many state leaders are describing Boeing’s announcement Wednesday that the corporation will establish an assembly line for its 787 jets in North Charleston. The facility will be built in stages. Boeing will hire 4,000 direct positions and another 8,000 related spin-off positions are expected. State lawmakers indicate that within five years that investment could total 3,800 jobs and $750 million, according to incentives approved this week by the General Assembly. University of South Carolina research economist Dr. Doug Woodward worked on a feasibility study for Boeing on the state of South Carolina. Woodward says the move will impact positively the economy of the state well into the future.
“i think this is going to have a tremendous impact on the state of South Carolina. it comes at a time when we have been in this deep recession, no job creation, no major announcements.  This is the biggest thing that has happened across the country in the last year in a positive way and we’ re lucky to land it right here in South Carolina.”
 Woodward says many factors led to Boeing’s decision locate its new facility in North Charleston. “In South Carolina they’ve had a facility that makes fuselages for the Dreamliner plane. Obviously they’ve had a positive experience with that and are comfortable with the location and the ability to find the quality of labor that they need. They must be happy wit the infrastructure and it must be a good geographic position for them.”
Woodward says their is a perception in some areas of the country that the state of South Carolina has a less educated workforce, and while acknowledging that the state has worked to do in improving its public education system persons from outside the state and within the state should not underestimate the employable talent that is available within the borders of South Carolina.
“i think we underappreciate sometimes the skills of our young people and what they are able to accomplish. More and more of them are graduating from college. I wouldn’t be surprised that what is happening at BMW will also happen at Boeing in that the corporation will hire a lot of factory workers that have college educations and are well qualified in a lot of different ways. We do have some problems with education, but on the other hand there are some strengths out there and I know this from working in education.”
 Woodward says in many ways the Boeing announcement on Wednesday mirrors the events of 17 years ago when BMW decided to cast its lot with South Carolina. “I remember that very well when BMW made that big announcement in 1992. It also happened during a recession and it was a shot heard around the world. I think Boeing coming in here in 2009 will have a similar effect. it will be an intangible effect that is very positive for our state. Boeing is a company that everybody recognizes. It ‘s a brand name that is respected throughout the world.