In Anti-Boeing Move, NLRB Rejects S.C. Jobs, Solar Energy

In an odd way, the National Labor Relations Board’s unjustified complaint against Boeing for locating new production facilities in South Carolina reinforces how much the company is bringing to the Charleston area in terms of investment, jobs, excitement and good will. Without the NLRB’s extreme move against Boeing, these sorts of positive developments might have gone unnoticed outside the state or the aerospace industry. Allow us to highlight several:

Boeing's 787 final assembly facility, North Charleston, S.C.

The North Charleston assembly plant will begin production of the 787 Dreamliner in July. Boeing has already hired more than 1,000 employees for the project, with more to come as the company moves toward a first-quarter 2012 delivery of the first plane manufactured in South Carolina.

The investment expands economic activity through the region in countless ways. For example, as the Charleston Regional Business Journal reported April 7, “Boeing contracts with Charlotte-based business“:

Boeing South Carolina has selected Charlotte-based Curtiss-Wright Controls Inc. to provide emergent and specialty production support for the company’s operations in North Charleston, Curtiss-Wright announced this week.“Curtiss-Wright is very proud to provide manufacturing and final assembly support for the Boeing 787,” Curtiss-Wright Corp. co-COO David Adams said in the news release. “We are pleased to build on our long history of service to Boeing and aviation innovation through our support for this important and exciting new aircraft.”

The contract calls for Curtiss-Wright Controls’ flight systems segment and its metal treatment segment to provide 24-hour specialty production of 787 parts to Boeing South Carolina’s 787 final assembly and delivery plant.

There are even more jobs for lawyers (reflecting the increased economic activity).  The American Lawyer reported April 14 that 500-lawyer Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice has acquired 44-lawyer Buist Moore Smythe McGee, a prominent law firm in Charleston, as part of the larger firm’s plans to expand its presence in South Carolina. Womble Caryle’s chairman, Keith Vaughan, is bullish on the region’s economy thanks in great part to Boeing.

As the largest firm in North Carolina, Vaughan says, Womble Carlyle had been looking for a way to expand outside the manufacturing center of Greenville in order to cater to client needs elsewhere. The firm is betting that the Charleston economy will grow, thanks to Boeing’s decision two years ago to relocate some of its plants to the region. The Seattle-based company, the world’s second-largest commercial jet manufacturer, plans on building its 787 Dreamliner series in the Charleston area.

Suppliers and new jobs will likely follow once Boeing’s aircraft assembly line becomes operational in the next few months. Vaughan hopes that the economic impact will be similar to BMW opening its only U.S. production facility near Greenville in 1994.

As a responsible corporate citizen, Boeing is also making the kind of investments that promote innovation and good will. Consider its approach toward renewable energy. From SustainableBusiness.com, April 21, “Boeing South Carolina Plant Goes 100% Renewable, Vermont National Guard Gets Solar“:

Boeing’s South Carolina plant, which will assemble its 787 Dreamliner airplanes, is shooting for 100% renewable energy with the help of a 2.6 MW rooftop solar system.  This is the first solar system for Boeing. 18,000 thin-film panels will cover the massive roof, equivalent to an area of about 10 acres or eight football fields. It will be the sixth largest rooftop solar system in the US. South Carolina Electric & Gas will own, install and maintain the system.

Boeing’s construction of the new facilities also took environmental factors into account, as the company worked with the Nature Conservancy to ameliorate the necessary removal of trees, out, using the wood for lumber and biomass-energy production while relocating or replanting elsewhere. And then there’s the energy conservation step:

The expansion of the North Charleston facility is being designed to LEED Silver rating or higher. This includes installing dual-flush toilets, restrictive flow faucets and the latest technologies in heating and cooling systems to conserve water and electricity including laminate solar panels.

Boeing is working with the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority to develop alternate commuting options for employees that can be implemented in 2010. Boeing teams in North Charleston also are exploring ways to design manufacturing processes to significantly minimize, or eliminate, the amount of solid waste sent to landfills.

The opportunity to report about the good news coming from Charleston hardly counteracts the unprecedented and anti-business move by the NLRB. Still, it IS good news.

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