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Missouri Governor Jay Nixon greeted Bert Vescolani, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Science Center, where business, labor and education leaders gathered in front of the Missouri-made Mercury space capsule at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis for the signing of Senate Bill 1, to help Missouri compete for production of Boeing 777X.
Gov. Nixon Signs Bill for Production of Boeing 777X Commercial Jetliner
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 1, to help Missouri compete for production of Boeing 777X commercial jetliner.
Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt holds the newly signed Senate Bill 1 as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon congratulated State Representative Anne Zerr, Economic Development, Chairman, on the passage of the bipartisan legislation.
Boeing launched the 777X program at the 2013 Dubai Airshow with a record-breaking number of customer orders and commitments for 259 airplanes from four customers across Europe and the Middle East. Image courtesy Boeing
by Betty Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), December 10, 2013 - "Just as workers right here in St. Louis helped our nation reach for the stars by building the Mercury space capsules a half century ago, today we send clear message that Missouri is ready to open the next great chapter for high-tech aerospace manufacturing in our state," Gov. Nixon said in a press conference, Tuesday morning, at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis.
With more than a dozen states competing to build the 777X, Gov. Nixon had called the legislature into a special session to consider legislation that would help the state submit a competitive proposal for this transformational project. In less than 5 days, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 23-8 and the House by a vote of 127-20.
"Fifty-five years ago, tomorrow, NASA received proposals from twelve companies for the development of our nation's first manned spacecraft," Governor Nixon began in remarks to business, labor and education leaders gathered for the official signing of Senate Bill 1.
He noted that the Soviets caught the United States by surprise when they launched Sputnik 1 a year prior in 1957. "The space race was on. The winner of that competition was McDonnell Aircraft Corporation right here in St. Louis," stated Governor Nixon, adding that McDonnell would become McDonnell Douglas and then Boeing.
Over the next several years, teams of engineers built twenty space capsules, including the Mercury on display in the Planetarium. "Without computers or calculators, using nothing more than advanced slide rulers, these engineers achieved what no one thought possible just a few years before - putting a man in space," stated Governor Nixon.
Nixon emphasized that as the headquarters of Boeing Defense, St. Louis has continued to burnish its reputation for building the aircraft that pushed the boundaries of science, kept our men and women in uniform safe and kept our nation strong.
The governor highlighted the significance of winning the new aerospace competition. "In determining who will build the next generation of American-made aircraft, its outcome will have a powerful and lasting impact on this region and on the future of aerospace in our state."
With new technologies such as a composite wing, the Boeing 777X will be the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world. Winning production of this next-generation aircraft would bring billions of dollars in new investment and thousands of new advanced manufacturing jobs to the St. Louis region and throughout the state by creating opportunities for a whole new supplier base. For example, in Washington State this aircraft's predecessor, the Boeing 777, generates $20 billion in economic activity annually and supports 56,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Senate Bill 1 provides additional capacity of up to $150 million annually for an aerospace project that creates at least 2,000 jobs under four of Missouri's performance-based economic development programs: Missouri Works, Missouri Works Training, Missouri BUILD, and the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act.
"From the F-150 to the F-18, here in Missouri, we don't just build big things, we build the next big thing," stated Governor Nixon proudly.
"This bipartisan legislation demonstrates once again that when it comes to opportunities to create thousands of family-supporting jobs and grow our high-tech manufacturing industry, Missouri competes to win," the Governor stated with a big smile.
In an interview following the signing of the bill, State Representative, Anne Zerr, Chairman, Economic Development Committee, provided a personal perspective. "What this means to Missouri is that we can be on top again. My father, Lymon York, was an engineer on Gemini," she said pointing to the photos of the capsule on the wall behind her. "For me to be able to stand here and put a lifetime of commercial airline activity in Missouri is really important. We have tried for a number of years to move from defense construction into commercial and I think this is a good bridge."
Strong support from St. Louis-area construction labor councils has also given Missouri a competitive edge, stated Governor Nixon. The St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers' District Council, and the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis have committed to 24-hour work schedule without overtime during construction of Boeing's facilities. This aggressive work schedule would double the number of work hours each week, triple the committed workforce, and reduce the construction time by at least a year.
"Everybody came to the forefront," stated St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. "We showed the world that St. Louis is prepared to build the next generation of commercial jetliners. There's no question about it. We have a history of it right here in St. Louis. We have a skilled work force and we are proud of what we have done. We have a legacy with the Boeing Corporation. They are a part of the fabric of the St. Louis metropolitan area."
The Missouri-made Mercury space capsule on display at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis, was manned by NASA Astronaut Alan B. Shephard in May 1961.
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