Experts suggest Illinois has no chance of landing Boeing plant

The State of Illinois may be putting on a hopeful face but experts suggest Illinois has little to no chance of enticing Boeing to open a new plant in the state:

But Richard Aboulafia, a longtime aircraft industry analyst, is among industry watchers who don’t believe Illinois has a chance.

“Zero, zilch, nada. Worst (possible location) I’ve heard yet, apologies to Illinois,” he said.

The state, he said, has almost no aerospace production or workforce with industry experience and has a heavy, strong union presence unlikely to appeal to Boeing as it goes through tense labor negotiations in Washington.

Illinois is also short on several requirements Boeing wants any new home to provide, aerospace industry consultant Scott Hamilton of Leeham Co. said…

Those requirements include a site adjacent to a “major international airport,” one with a runway at least 9,000 feet long, according to a copy of the company’s site selection criteria obtained by The Associated Press…

The area around O’Hare has almost no available land, said Brent Pollina, vice president of Pollina Corporate Real Estate in suburban Chicago.

Boeing also wants 300-400 acres of land “at no cost, or very low cost,” and buildings totaling several million square feet under the same or similar terms.

Without offering details, the company says it would like its corporate income tax, property tax and other taxes to be “significantly reduced.”

While Boeing is asking a lot (leading to a very good question of how much states or local governments should give up to entice companies), it doesn’t sound like Illinois has much to offer for this new plant. In a global age, the headquarters of Boeing may be in Chicago but that doesn’t mean a new plant has to be anywhere near it.

This offer to Boeing should also lead to broader conversations about what Illinois does offer, not including tax breaks and financial deals, compared to other states. Chicago and the surrounding region is likely the biggest asset with a global city (particularly financially), plenty of educated employees, other important companies and organizations, and a central location in the United States with the necessary transportation infrastructure (airports, railroads, highways, and water access). Illinois has lots of space outside the Chicago area and some rich farmland. The whole state is centrally located and has access both to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. But, is Illinois perceived as good for business? How do its assets line up with those of other states?

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