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Boeing celebrates centennial at S.C. Statehouse

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Boeing Co. marked its centennial year with a celebration today at the S.C. Statehouse.

As part of “Boeing Impact Day,” the S.C. House and Senate recognized the aerospace company and commercial jetliner manufacturer with proclamations acknowledging its anniversary and contributions to the state. Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman reminisced about the S.C. beginnings of Boeing, which broke ground on a 1.2 million-square-foot facility in North Charleston in 2009, before looking forward, saying: “We’ve got a lot of Boeing in our future.”

Boeing, founded on July 15, 1916, began in South Carolina in 2004 as two companies: Vought Aircraft Industries, Charleston Operations, and Global Aeronautica LLC. Boeing purchased Vought’s share in 2008 and Vought’s North Charleston operations in 2009, creating Boeing Charleston – now Boeing South Carolina.

Tim Keating, senior vice president of Boeing Government Operations, also spoke of the future, pointing to the final assembly of Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner jets scheduled to begin in South Carolina next year. The 787-10, the largest version of Boeing’s back-ordered twin-aisle jetliner, will be produced exclusively at Boeing’s factory beside Charleston International Airport, joining two other versions of the 787 Dreamliner line being assembled at the non-unionized plant.

“That means that the assembly of the world’s most advanced commercial aircraft will be entrusted exclusively to the workers of South Carolina,” Keating said.

Boeing South Carolina’s first airplane rolled out of final assembly in April 2012. As of February 2016, Boeing South Carolina had delivered 100 planes.

The Chicago-based aerospace giant, with revenue of $96 billion in 2015, employs more than 7,500 workers in South Carolina at an average total compensation of $82,000.

“The impact is not just economic,” Keating said. “We deeply value the strong partnerships that we’ve built. … Boeing means South Carolina.”

Speakers also praised Boeing’s community contributions, which total more than $28.7 million since 2010. Willie Calloway, executive director of the S.C. State Museum, said the museum’s Boeing Observatory, made possible by a 2011 $1 million distance-learning grant, has welcomed 70,000 students since its 2014 opening, with 5,500 taking part in on-site astronomy classes.

One hundred fifteen teachers in 27 counties have been trained in the computer control system of the Clark telescope, which allows students at participating schools to take a close-up look at the rings of Saturn or the Orion Nebula. Calloway said the museum’s goal is to connect every school in the state to the observatory.

“Coming to South Carolina is infectious – the people, the energy,” Keating said. “It does have a positive impact. … There’s no doubt that South Carolina will be a part of the Boeing story.”

S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas also attended today’s ceremony.

“In just a few short years, Boeing has laid the foundation for a long and successful history in South Carolina,” Lucas said in a release. “The company’s contributions extend beyond strong employment and economic impact, as they have sought to grow deep roots in our community and our neighborhoods as well.”

Contact Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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