Boeing C-17 Program — Long Beach, California

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If an industrial operation scheduled for termination is sufficiently large, even a brief reprieve can have far-reaching consequences. Such is the case with the Boeing plant’s C-17 program in Long Beach, California. The program was to have been extended through 2008, and no longer. Were this schedule to prevail, the first cuts would have been made in August 2006, affecting Boeing’s suppliers in 42 states across the nation.

To preserve the C-17 program, a wide-ranging effort was organized. City, utility, regional, and state officials assembled a “Red Team.” Members of this team took every opportunity to communicate the benefits of the C-17 program to the public and elected officials. Team members also developed plans to reduce costs. Ideas for cost reductions included tax credits and fuel flowage rebates.

The Red Team was able to cite compelling benefits. Retaining the program would preserve 5,500 direct Boeing jobs. Although these jobs are based in the City of Long Beach, the economic impact of direct and indirect jobs and suppliers stretches across California and the nation. There are 669 Boeing suppliers representing a total C-17 impact of $8.4 billion.

The Red Team’s efforts helped shape the Defense Authorization Bill signed by President Bush in 2006. The signed legislation saved the program for a year, through November 2009.

The immediate effects of extending the program are impressive, not the least because the average salary for aircraft manufacturing is $85,000. Another year’s total earnings are projected to reach $467.5 million, with nearly $7.8 million tax revenue contributed to the Los Angeles County area, and at least $21.8 million tax revenue contributed to all local government. But the Red Team believes its work is far from finished. It continues its efforts to support the program beyond 2009.

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