Choose Washington NMA Council announces leadership: Dr. Noel Schulz and Former WSLC President Rick Bender to serve as co-chairs

As the Boeing Company considers the business case for a potential New Mid-Market Airplane, Council co-chairs will help make Washington’s case as the best place for industry investment – growing aerospace businesses and sustaining jobs for generations of workers  

EVERETT, Wash. – Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee’s Choose Washington NMA Council today announced Dr. Noel Schulz and Rick Bender as co-chairs of the effort to solidify Washington as the preferred location for design, production, and final assembly of an all-new aircraft under study by the Boeing Co.

After the announcement, council members from business, labor, local and state government, and others toured Washington State University Everett’s Boeing Innovation Studio launched by the company last year, as well as Everett Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center. The council is developing an innovative aerospace workforce and education strategy as part of its effort to strengthen the industry.

The council is additionally working to assess the industry’s economic impact on communities across the state. A previous 2016 assessment found that over 250,000 jobs in Washington are directly or indirectly tied to the aerospace industry. A competitiveness study previously announced is underway.

“I appreciate that Dr. Noel Schulz and Rick Bender have agreed to serve as co-chairs of the NMA Council. Their leadership will help our team make the case that Washington is the best place to site the new plane under consideration by the Boeing Company,” said Gov. Inslee.

“Dr. Schulz and Rick Bender bring distinguished credentials and professional networks that will help to communicate the importance to our entire state of winning the Boeing NMA,” said Brian Bonlender, Commerce director and member of the Choose Washington NMA Council.

“I look forward to working with stakeholders throughout the state to help ensure Boeing’s New Mid-Market Airplane is built in Washington,” Schulz said.  “Without doubt, our state offers Boeing the nation’s top combination of technical expertise, workforce training programs, and government leadership and commitment. The council will present a compelling case why Boeing’s New Mid-Market Airplane should be designed, produced and assembled in Washington state.

“The best trained and most skilled aerospace workforce in the world is right here in Washington. It’s one of the state’s greatest assets and its why companies throughout the industry continue to locate here and grow jobs,” said Rick Bender.  “Our investments in transportation, education, and livability strengthen the whole supply chain and make us even more competitive for big wins like the NMA.”

Dr. Noel Schulz is a professor in the WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and a nationally recognized expert in power systems engineering. She is also First Lady of WSU and is dedicated to recruiting and retaining women in STEM fields and mentoring women and minority faculty, having initiated faculty networks for women at three universities.

Rick Bender served as president of the Washington State Labor Council for 17 years, beginning in 1993, making it one of the most accomplished and effective AFL-CIO state federations in the nation by the end of his tenure. Previously, Mr. Bender was a state legislator from 1973 to 1991 in both the House and the Senate, serving as majority leader, floor leader, and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.  As a member of the Washington’s Workforce Training Board for over a decade, he championed programs to launch workers into family-wage jobs with benefits through apprenticeships and other industry partnerships.


Contact: Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, (206) 256-6106

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