The Washington State delegation’s participation in the Paris Air Show has been a great success. We were able to demonstrate to the entire aerospace world why Washington State is well-positioned to continue to be the largest aerospace cluster in the world. With great support and the leadership of Governor Gregoire and our Commerce leadership, the many state aerospace companies had a terrific opportunity to broaden existing relationships and develop new potential customers. Our Air Washington coalition of aerospace education organizations were the only major educational presence at the Air Show. The same is true of our labor organizations, IAM and SPPEA, which were at the Air Show to describe with pride the advanced training and unparalleled experience and capacity. They also described the many areas in which close collaboration between labor union workers and Boeing has helped increase productivity, efficiency and lasting high quality in the narrow and wide body aircraft coming off the production lines in Renton and Everett. One of Boeing’s top leaders, Ray Connor, took time out to meet with us and exchange ideas as to how we can grow our workforce and improve competitiveness. At the Air Show Boeing continues to dominate the wide body market. There was intense media speculation about the timing and features of any possible successors to the popular 737 series. Our Boeing friends were very clear they are more focused on taking the time needed to get it right than rush out a decision. Walking around the Air Show brought home why getting it right is critical. In addition to Airbus, China, Russia, Canada, and Brazil are showcasing many alternate jets to try and take the 737 market share. We in the Washington State delegation also had an eye-opening experience visiting the many state pavillons which are targeting Washington State and seeking to lure future Boeing aircraft facilities to their states, which include Oklahoma, North and South Carolina, Missouri and others. This helps motivate all of us as we return home to keep in mind the paramount importance of working together as one state to promote our uniquely qualified workforce, innovation and efficiency. The realities of the global competition make it important we work in all areas of aerospace to control costs and maximize efficiency in all aspects of the aerospace supply chain, product development and aircraft assembly. This shared experience at the Air Show confirmed that if we pull together as one state, there are no limits at our potential to grow our aerospace cluster and in so doing retain and grow middle class and family wage jobs for future generations. I am excited to help with many others in seizing this future for our state.
Senior Adviser to the Governor, Project Pegasus Foster Pepper PLLC