Gov. Chris Gregoire today participated in a series of aerospace related events to celebrate major achievements during her administration, including the landing of the 737 MAX and the U.S. Air Force refueling tanker, as well as a significant growth in aerospace training programs.
"I know that when I leave office next January, our aerospace industry will continue to thrive and grow due in part to the achievements we've been able to accomplish over the last eight years of my administration," Gregoire said. "We've pushed to enhance our business climate. We've invested in aerospace training programs. And we've made critical improvements to our infrastructure, including our transportation system. As a result, our aerospace industry is attracting business from around the world -- now employing more than 92,000 Washington workers. We've seen the number of aerospace suppliers in Washington state grow by 30 percent -- a significant increase since 2005. This is success that we should all be tremendously proud of."
To highlight achievements to grow our state's aerospace training programs, Gregoire this morning joined students at Renton Technical College, where the governor became a student in the school's basic drilling & riveting course. The school developed the course after Gregoire made significant investments in workforce training through her Workforce Investment Act funds. Gregoire assisted students by laying out locations of rivets, drilling holes and measuring hole diameters.
"It's been a while since I've been a student in the classroom," Gregoire said. "This was a good opportunity to gain a better appreciation of what our aerospace workers do to help our economy. It was also a chance to see first-hand the growth of our aerospace training programs."
During her administration, Gregoire has appropriated $4.5 million in Workforce Investment Act funds to expand aerospace training opportunities. This funding helped the state:
* Develop industry-driven training centers at Everett's Paine Field and Spokane International Airport;
* Purchase equipment, classroom space and materials to train more students; and
* Encourage more than 100 high school students to pursue engineering degrees through the Washington Aerospace Scholars program.
Under Gregoire's leadership, Washington has invested $4.8 million for aerospace training and apprenticeship programs at the community and technical colleges over the past five years. Gregoire also supported investments in Aviation High School in the Highline School District.
Following her stop at RTC, Gregoire joined executives at Boeing and toured the 737 manufacturing line at the company's Renton facility. Boeing recently announced it would be manufacturing the new 737 MAX in the Puget Sound area, and learned last year that the company was selected to build the new Air Force refueling tanker.
"These wins didn't happen by accident," Gregoire said. "I worked very closely with lawmakers, Boeing and its labor force to ensure the business climate necessary to build these planes here. I'm incredibly pleased with the outcomes -- which support thousands of jobs across Washington state."
During her administration, Gregoire:
* Successfully led a coalition of governors supporting Boeing's bid for the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker, which means the creation of 11,000 jobs for Washingtonians;
* Supported Boeing and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in reaching a historic labor accord;
* Requested and the Legislature approved key reforms to our state's unemployment insurance and workers compensation systems, enhancing our state's business climate; and
* Initiated Project Pegasus to help secure Washington as the location for building the next iteration of the 737 aircraft, the 737 MAX; and
* Set up the Governor's Office of Aerospace in 2012 to continue advancing the state's interests in keeping a competitive industry.
Gregoire also toured Boeing's ecoDemonstrator, a 737 devoted to testing some of the latest technology advancements, including biofuels. Gregoire recently signed legislation to help complete the supply chain for the state's aviation biofuels industry.
Gregoire wrapped up her day at Boeing's Flight Services Seattle Training Campus, where she joined the company's chief pilot for flight training, Capt. Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, as well as Bailey Bonaci, a recent high school graduate who participated in the Washington Aerospace Scholars program, in a 787 Dreamliner full-flight simulator.
"Flying the 787 simulator was exhilarating," Gregoire said. "At the same time, it was a good demonstration of why we need more skilled workers in our state -- not only to fly the airplanes and manage the controls, but train the next generation of pilots and technicians and to ensure we continue to develop the most innovative aircraft, like the 787, right here in Washington state. Our economic future depends on a highly skilled workforce."
Gregoire helped develop the aerospace scholars program to encourage more than 100 high school students to pursue engineering degrees. Additionally, she supported investments to increase the number of engineering slots at UW and WSU, and has made significant investments to increase math and science enrollments in the state's public four-year institutions.
Next month, Gregoire will lead a delegation on a trade mission to Ireland and England focusing heavily on aerospace. The governor will spend two days at the Farnborough Air Show, ensuring executives at major aerospace companies from around the world understand the value of doing business in Washington state. Washington state is the only region offering a complete supply chain -- with companies that build the seats we sit on, the tires planes land on, the in-flight entertainment systems, and the rivets that hold airplanes together. Gregoire will also highlight the state's trained workforce, and its record of reliability and productivity -- making Washington state the premier global aerospace center across the world.
Gregoire also attended the Paris Air Show in 2005 and 2011.