2013 was a remarkable year for aerospace in Washington, but more work ahead to grow Washington aerospace industry

Updated aerospace industry strategy lays out aggressive goals to continue momentum in 2014-15

OLYMPIA—Significant progress was made in 2013 to protect and expand the aerospace industry in Washington state, according to a report issued today by Gov. Jay Inslee. The progress report comes in conjunction with the Aerospace & Defense Supplier Summit currently underway at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle at which more than 1,400 aerospace industry executives are gathering.

The most significant accomplishment touted in the report was the decision by The Boeing Company to assemble the 777X and its carbon fiber wing in Washington. Additional successes include the designation by Washington State University to co-lead the FAA’s new Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and the Environment, and significantly expanding the state’s presence at the International Paris Air Show last summer.

“We have made tremendous progress,” said Inslee. “The 777X is a huge win for Washington. That decision will ensure our ability to expand the aerospace industry in our great state for decades to come. Now, we are refining and executing our strategy to leverage this decision and bring even more growth to our state.”

According to an economic impact report released by the Washington Aerospace Partnership last fall, the Washington aerospace industry in Washington generated $76 billion in economic activity in 2012. Eleven percent of all wages paid in the state that year are attributable to aerospace. Evaluating the economic impact of the industry for the state was another one of the Washington Aerospace Industry Strategy’s priority action items.

“This industry is so vital to each and every Washingtonian,” said Bob Drewel, president of the Washington Aerospace Partnership, a collaboration of local governments, business groups, and labor organizations dedicated to supporting the aerospace industry in Washington. “The fact that we once and for all have a clear and concise strategy, developed with input from across the state, is particularly gratifying.”

Inslee released the state’s Washington Aerospace Industry Strategy in May 2013. The five-year plan laid out specific action items, as well as priorities for 2013-14 organized in four main goals:

  • Growing and Diversifying Washington’s Aerospace Cluster—Building upon our strengths, allowing existing companies to thrive, attracting new investments, and diversifying the industry;
  • Cultivating a Deep and Talented Aerospace Workforce—Developing a robust pipeline of aerospace workers, preschool to graduate school;
  • Fostering a Culture of Aerospace Innovation—Facilitating discovery of new technologies; and
  • Linking Washington’s Aerospace “Support Chain”—Organizing across the state to support the industry and ensuring a healthy business climate.

The Office of Aerospace is currently in the process of updating the strategy to reflect the significant progress made to date.

New priority action items for 2014-15 include aggressively recruiting companies from around the world eager to participate in the 777X supply chain, as well as specific strategies to support emerging segments of the industry including advanced materials and composites, unmanned aerial systems, aviation biofuels, and maintenance, repair and overhaul operations.

“Washington has an incredibly deep base in commercial aircraft manufacturing, anchored by Boeing,” said Alex Pietsch, director of the state’s Office of Aerospace. “With the 777X secured, we now have the opportunity to do even more to help the 1,350 aerospace-related business locating in nearly every county in the state expand and to establish Washington leadership in these exciting new markets.”

“The successes of this past year in aerospace will have a positive multiplier effect on other industry sectors poised to grow with the evolution and use of carbon fiber and composite materials,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “This year has blown the doors open for opportunities to grow a world-class composite industry cluster in our state and develop further as a center for advanced manufacturing R&D, technology, materials, skilled workers and green, innovative production facilities serving maritime, automotive and clean energy sectors in addition to aerospace.”


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