Can anyone imagine the Boeing company of old shutting down airplane production in Seattle and sending it someplace across the country?
When Bill Boeing started building airplanes in his big red barn in 1916, he created a company that grew to be an inextricable part of this region’s economy and identity. For a stretch of several decades, Seattle was a one-company town that thrived or suffered depending on the successes or failures of Boeing
But in 1997, Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas, and local ties began to erode. Corporate headquarters moved to Chicago. Boeing is now listed as incorporated in Delaware. And, this week, the company announced production of the 787 will be taken from Everett and shifted to South Carolina.
Luckily, Boeing is no longer the lone 500 pound gorilla in the local economy; there are others, like Amazon and Microsoft. But there will still be thousands of good workers hurt by the change. Seattle and surrounding communities have provided a great home for Boeing for more than a century, but the new corporate leaders do not operate out of sentiment or loyalty or history.
Boeing is no longer a hometown company and, if that were not obvious before, it is now. It is just another giant corporation playing states against each other to gain special tax benefits and looking for ways to save money on the backs of workers.
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