The largest crowd in four years gathered for the annual meeting of Economic Development Board for Tacoma Pierce County today. And they heard an encouraging 20-year projected demand for 33,500 new airliners worth $4.1 trillion.

A Boeing Commercial Airplanes executive said the future looks solid, though not necessarily growing for the South Sound’s part of an expected ramp-up in airliner production. He noted the company’s South Carolina investment as an important sign that Washington must not take its legacy manufacturer for granted.

“Our intention is to continue building aircraft parts at Frederickson,” the only Boeing manufacturing plant in Pierce County, said Ross Bogue, vice president and general manager of Boeing Fabrication.

Overall, the company expects to hire about 30,000 new employees in the next two years, adding to 20,000 who were issued badges in recent years. Bogue said “the five-year window for Puget Sound Boeing facilities is pretty stable,” without much physical growth or contraction expected.
Today, Pierce County residents fill 9,700 Boeing jobs, including 1,700 at the Composite Materials Center and other Frederickson operations, and 75 more supporting C-17 aircraft at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Another 6,300 company retirees also reside in the county.

Bogue joined with retiring President Loren Anderson of Pacific Lutheran University in stressing that we cannot let up on efforts to improve and expand educational opportunities, in order to have the skilled future work force members needed by Boeing and the rest of our economy.

Anderson was honored by the EDB with its inaugural Golden Shovel award to mark his personal and institutional long-term contributions to the region’s economic development.