EDITORIAL: Help land Boeing plant in Northwest Indiana

2013-12-19T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Help land Boeing plant in Northwest Indiana nwitimes.com
December 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Where is The Boeing Co. going to locate its new assembly plant for the 777 jetliner? In Northwest Indiana, we hope.

Indiana is among 15 states hoping to land the new plant, and why not? That factory would offer employment for more than 9,000 people in a 4.2 million-square-foot factory on a 400-acre site.

Wings would be built there, and the jetliner would be assembled, painted and delivered.

Indiana and local officials should consider the potential impact of all those jobs on the regional economy in weighing incentives for Boeing.

The company would be well advised to locate the plant in Gary, where the corporate fleet is already based. That would help the company easily keep track of production there while also boosting the airport's prospects.

Boeing's criteria for the new plant site include a low- or no-cost site and facility, state-paid infrastructure improvements, low overall cost of business, a pro-business tax structure with incentives, state assistance in recruiting employees, an adjacent 9,000-foot runway, highway and road access, a rail spur and a nearby port capable of handling oversized containers.

Northwest Indiana checks off each of those boxes.

The Gary/Chicago International Airport's main runway is being extended to 8,900 feet, and this region is all about infrastructure.

It is all about manufacturing, too. The labor pool could easily be prepared for this new plant.

State economic development professionals seem to be trying to lower Hoosiers' expectations. After all, there are 15 states bidding for this plant.

But if Indiana can land this plant in Gary, adjacent to the airport, it should. And if not, let's learn why not. Northwest Indiana needs to pull together and think big, not be mired in parochial negativity.

"I'm focused on what do we have to do to close this deal," said state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, a retired United Airlines executive. "I think we are competitive."

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