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Support growing for

777x push in St. Louis

Boeing 777-x

Momentum grew on Friday for a big push to lure Boeing Co.’s 777X assembly plant to St. Louis, but no one’s sure quite yet what form that push will take.

A key state senator said he would support state tax breaks for the plant, which could create thousands of jobs, through a special session if necessary. Meanwhile a union leader at Boeing’s St. Louis operation said his members would be open to talking with the company about a deal, despite a sister local in Seattle rejecting a contract for the work last week.

The talk came a day after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon sat down with Boeing executives to pitch St. Louis as a site for assembly of its new 777X commercial jet. The company is shopping for locations after its Seattle-based Machinists union last week rejected contract concessions, including sharp pension cuts. It is drawing eager suitors from coast to coast.

Nixon touted St. Louis’ experienced aerospace workforce and long ties with Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. But winning the plant would probably also require financial incentives — Washington state was prepared to offer $8.5 billion in tax breaks over 15 years — that dwarf any of Missouri’s current programs.

A spokesman for the governor would not discuss what particular subsidies the state might offer, but several people familiar with the talks said the size of the package, and Boeing’s quick timetable — it wants to pick a site within three months; the Legislature reconvenes Jan. 8 — would be likely to require a special session of the legislature.

That would be OK with Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin. Richard said Friday that, while he has heard no details of a plan from Nixon’s office yet, he thinks a deal the magnitude of a new Boeing plant would be worth calling back lawmakers for.

“I’m not opposed to it,” he said. “It would be an extraordinary effort. But special sessions are for extraordinary situations.”

House Majority Leader John Diehl said he, too, would be open to a big package to land Boeing.

“Anytime you have the opportunity to significantly expand the operations of a company like that, you need to look at that seriously,” Diehl said.

Read the rest at the St. Louis Today >>