Nov 22 2013 Alabama's Congressional delegation sends a clear message: We want Boeing

Alabama's Congressional delegation is joining in the state's push to land a new Boeing production facility in Huntsville.

In a Nov. 22 letter sent to Boeing CEO W. James McNerney Jr., Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby and Reps. Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Spencer Bachus, Mike Rogers, Martha Roby and Terri Sewell made the case for North Alabama as "the best choice" for a new production plant for Boeing's next-generation 777X.

"Given that Boeing already has such a significant presence in Huntsville, including performing much of its 787 and future 777X engineering work there, you are already familiar with the large, skilled, and reliable workforce that the area provides. All of Alabama's universities offer top-notch engineering and science programs with state-of-the-art facilities that can provide the skilled personnel that your expanded presence in Huntsville would require. Locally, the University of Alabama in Huntsville offers one of the nation's best aerospace engineering programs, while the Alabama Aviation Center, in partnership with the state's two-year college system, is also committed to providing large numbers of well-educated and trained aerospace workers," lawmakers wrote.

"We also hope you will remember that North Alabama's hospitable business environment includes decades of high-tech aerospace expertise, low taxation and cost-of-living, a rational regulatory regime, right-to-work laws, low utility rates, and excellent infrastructure."

State and city officials met with Boeing Tuesday after reports surfaced Huntsville was one of several locations in the running to potentially produce the 777X.

Boeing is considering the move after the International Association of Machinists in Washington state rejected an eight-year labor contract extension that would have kept production there.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the plant could bring as many as 4,800 high-paying jobs to the area and Boeing already owns about 300 acres between the two runways at the Huntsville International Airport. That site is large enough to accommodate the company's need for about 1 million square feet of production space and also provides important access to transportation.

That location could be ideal for the company, lawmakers said in their letter.

"We want to underscore that Huntsville is not a landlocked location. It provides immediate access to an international airport with tremendous available capacity, the interstate highway system, the national rail system, and the inland waterway system. In fact, United Launch Alliance, Boeing's joint venture with Lockheed Martin, has been manufacturing large Atlas and Delta rocket stages in nearby Decatur and shipping them via inland waterways to the Gulf of Mexico and on to Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base for many years," they wrote.

Officials in California, Kansas, South Carolina and Utah have also talked to the company and Georgia and Texas have expressed interest in the project. Boeing officials said they would make an announcement about the plant's location within three months.

The letter also includes an invitation for Boeing officials to meet with Sen. Shelby and other delegation members after the Thanksgiving break.