The Wall Street Journal

  • JUNE 30, 2011

Teddie E. Pryor Sr. Chairman , Charleston County Council, Charleston, S.C.

Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., Charleston, S.C.

Mayor R. Keith Summey, North Charleston, S.C.

Mayor Billy Swails, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

  • We find Thomas Geoghegan’s “Boeing’s Threat to American Enterprise” (op-ed, June 20) astounding in its ignorance toward our manufacturing statistics and we find statements like “poorly educated and low-skilled workers” insulting.

Boeing made a well-informed, private business decision in locating its second 787 assembly line to North Charleston, S.C. The company weighed multiple business factors, but the bottom line was simple: keep the company globally competitive. Boeing’s confidence in our work force is well-founded.

Although Mr. Geoghegan refers to our labor force as “poorly educated and low-skilled workers,” experienced aerospace workers are coming from Puget Sound, from across the aerospace-intensive Southeast and from other national aerospace labor sheds. Local manufacturing workers with previous experience are also being hired following their graduation from an intensive, customized Boeing training curriculum offered by the state of South Carolina.

South Carolina is rapidly growing its manufacturing sector and leads the U.S. in the number of jobs recruited from international firms per capita, according to the Financial Times.

Greer, South Carolina is home to the North American headquarters of BMW. Our state boasts an impressive list of domestic and international manufacturers including Michelin, Robert Bosch, Google, Boeing, Bose, Cummins, Daimler Vans, ThyssenKrupp, Starbucks, Alcoa, Nucor and Amoco. Many of these export to over 140 world-wide destinations directly through South Carolina’s world-class Port of Charleston.

Aerospace has been a natural fit for many years in South Carolina, a state with a long military tradition. Many significant aerospace players were here as early as the 1960s, and the current roster includes Lockheed, General Electric, Honeywell, Boeing, Eaton Aerospace, SKF Aerobearings and GE Aviation.

Far from the “much lower-wage work force” at “a miserable $14 an hour” picture that Mr. Geoghegan paints of our region, the 2009 average weekly wages for the aerospace product and parts manufacturing sector in Charleston County was the equivalent of $34.85 per hour, or $72,488 per year.

Growing business is in our state’s DNA. The recipe? Remove barriers to entry, simplify and expedite permitting, lower taxes, educate and prepare the work force, and maintain and expand the infrastructure. As a result, businesses relocate here and expand, make investments in our local and national economy, create new productive capacity, add jobs, multiply our local payroll and improve the standard of living for our citizens.


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