Have an opinion on who should get the $40 billion Air Force tanker contract? There's a Web site for that. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the site...
Have an opinion on who should get the $40 billion Air Force tanker contract? There’s a Web site for that.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the site catering to aggrieved Boeing supporters is seeing a lot more action than the one devoted to the contented winners.
Advocates of the Northrop Grumman/EADS entry, which won the Pentagon’s nod Feb. 29, are collecting names and e-mail addresses by asking Alabamians, “Are you sick of Boeing backers bashing our tanker? Let them know, with just a few clicks of the mouse.”
By mid-Friday the site had 6,329 “fellow supporters.”
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(Also as of midday Friday, the site’s editor was unaware that “Airforce” — repeated in several headlines — is not really a single word. Memo to Mobile: You could look it up.)
Put up by Mobile County, Ala., www.keepourtanker.com, the site doesn’t mince words about the transformative potential of the Northrop/EADS plan, which calls for a new plant in Mobile to assemble tanker planes from A330 sections largely built in Europe.
“We know that there are moments when we are witnesses to history, times when the future is changed forever,” says the site. “This is just such a moment for Mobile County. No region in the U.S. deserves this historic economic infusion more than ours.”
On the other side of the debate, more than 53,000 names have been added to the online petition that Boeing backer Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., created March 4, says a spokesman.
On the petition page of her Senate Web site (www.murray.senate.gov) , Murray urges readers to “Join the Fight!”
Spokesman Matt McAlvanah assures participants they won’t be joining anything else — the e-mail addresses will only be used to keep them informed about the tanker.
Russell Investments hunt takes new twist
Is Russell Investments, the capstone of downtown Tacoma’s shaky economic edifice, looking outside Washington or even out of the country for a future headquarters?
Not according to anything the company has said.
But even a whiff of such out-of-state competition, real or not, mobilized Gov. Christine Gregoire to offer $700,000 in state aid to keep the company in place.
“We know they’re being pursued by multiple states, and by some other countries,” says Bruce Kendall, CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board.
“So it is not completely accurate that this is a competition within the Puget Sound area — this has become at least a national and maybe a global competition.”
“We’re under the impression that several states, Canada, (and) other people have been wooing Russell,” echoes the governor’s legislative director, Marty Brown.
Tacoma officials say that for economic impact and political urgency, nothing short of Boeing’s bidding contest for the 787 assembly site compares to Russell’s search for a new corporate headquarters that would house 1,100 current employees and many future ones.
Boeing trumpeted its quest nationwide and played the final bidders off against each other.
But Russell has divulged little publicly — and what it did say suggests nothing outside the immediate Puget Sound area is under consideration.
Close observers have said that even moving to Seattle or the Eastside would be too much of a stretch for the company, whose investment analysts and traders largely live in Pierce County.
If true, that would make the specter of out-of-state competition a red herring.
The state’s $700,000 would come from an economic-development strategic-reserve fund, designated to keep an important employer from closing or relocating out of state or to recruit new jobs to the state, says the governor’s executive policy adviser, Marc Baldwin.
He says the money isn’t intended to favor Tacoma — “It’s allotted for a community that can keep Russell in the state, and Tacoma is the only community we know of that has a plan to do that.”
He adds that the fund is “designed to put deals over the top” as the final piece of a larger puzzle, and the $700,000 would only pay for infrastructure or other public investment.
Federal Way is among the other local spots that have made a pitch to Russell, but economic-development director Patrick Doherty says he’s not put out by the help extended to Tacoma.
“It sounds like a lot of money to you and me, but at the end of the day it’s a gesture,” he says.
A bigger helping hand for Tacoma’s pursuit of Russell came from a bill signed Friday by the governor, providing a sales-and-use tax deferral or exemption for a corporate headquarter’s construction project costing at least $30 million and employing at least 300 people.
The project must be in one of the state’s six community-empowerment zones, including downtown Tacoma. That could be worth millions to a company like Russell.
Comments? Send them to Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@-
seattletimes.com or 206-464-8541