Dec. 13--It may not be the much-ballyhooed 777X plant, but Boeing Co. said Thursday that it plans to add 300 to 400 jobs in St. Louis over the next two years in a reshuffling of its research and development operations.
The aerospace giant plans to establish three R&D centers here in a broader reorganization of its Research and Technology unit, a company spokesman said. The units here will focus on Systems Technology, Digital Aviation and Metallics and Fabrication and will be up and running by 2015.
It's part of a broader plan -- that long predates the 777X competition -- to streamline Boeing's 4,000-person research operation, said spokesman Daryl Stephenson.
"Right now we kind of have people scattered all over the country," he said. "By setting up these centers, we'll have a more focused approach to developing these technologies in specific areas."
The shift will add jobs in St. Louis, North Charleston, S.C., and Huntsville, Ala., where new hubs will also be established, while reducing them in the Seattle area and Long Beach, Calif. Engineers from Seattle and Long Beach will be welcome to apply for the jobs here, Stephenson said, but Boeing plans no mass relocation and expects to make new local hires.
The company is eligible for up to $16.8 million in state tax incentives over the next six years if it hits job-creation targets, according to Gov. Jay Nixon's office. Boeing has about 15,000 employees in the St. Louis area today, including about 500 working for Research and Technology.
The move comes on the heels of a similar shift of design and engineering work on the new 777X jet out of Seattle to other sites, including St. Louis. It follows an announcement in the spring that 400 information technology jobs would shift to St. Louis from the Puget Sound region.
In recent years the company has launched what it calls a "One Boeing" strategy, designed to break down the long-established division between its Seattle-based Commercial Airplanes unit and its St. Louis-based defense operations.
It also comes as Boeing begins weighing bids for a far-larger prize: The wing and final assembly plants for its 777X.
Missouri was one of nearly two dozen states to file proposals with the company this week to build the up-to-$10 billion plant, which could create as many as 8,500 jobs.
Late Thursday, Boeing disclosed how many responses the company received from its request for proposals: 54 sites proposed by 22 states.
Missouri and local officials here offered incentives that could top $3.5 billion over 23 years, plus a package of training programs, land and other goodies designed to lure the plant from Seattle, where Boeing planned to build the 777X until its Machinists union there voted down a tough new contract last month.
Boeing and its Seattle Machinists restarted talks this week and traded new contract proposals Wednesday and Thursday. But each offer was quickly rejected by the other side and a deal appeared no closer.
Copyright 2013 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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