Q: The governor has put a lot of focus on aerospace recently – including new investments in aerospace training and creating a new Aerospace Office. Is it worth the investment? Why so much emphasis on aerospace?
A: Aerospace is critical to Washington’s economic success. Currently 92,000 Washingtonians hold an aerospace related job at one of 720 Washington aerospace companies. And we know there’s plenty of room to grow – especially given Boeing’s recent announcement to manufacture the 737 MAX in the Puget Sound area.
Washington’s aerospace industry is more than just Boeing, though. As already mentioned – Washington is home to720 companies that make up our aerospace supply chain. These are companies that provide the tires our planes land on, that build the seats we sit in, that create the bolts and rivets that hold the planes together, that supply the in-flight video and entertainment systems that we watch to pass time. Our companies make every part of an airplane – and that’s what these investments are about. It’s about ensuring our economic success by helping our aerospace companies succeed and grow in Washington state – and ultimately create new jobs.
Q: Aren’t other states trying the same strategy? How will this trip set Washington state apart, when other states are doing the same thing?
A: The fact that other states will be at the Farnborough Air Show is exactly why Washington can’t afford to not have a presence there. We know that the governors of 7 other states will be at the Air Show – including the governors of Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Kansas and Mississippi. These governors will be telling companies to look at their states for business. Governor Gregoire is confident that Washington state has stronger selling points – including our highly trained workforce and friendly business environment – but those selling points don’t help our state if companies don’t hear them.
Q: Who’s paying for this trip?
A: The Governor’s costs, as well as the costs of two of her staff members, will be covered by private funds. And it’s important to note that private industry delegates attending this trade mission are responsible for their own costs. No state money is used to help business delegates travel.
The state will be paying for Commerce Director Rogers Weed, as well as Alex Pietsch, who heads the new Governor’s Aerospace Office. Both Rogers and Alex will be leading many of the key business meetings.
Q: How do you justify spending tax-payer dollars to go to Europe when we are in financial hard times?
A: We know that if we sit idly by while other states are out promoting their aerospace industry and their new innovations, Washington state is out-sold. We lose out on critical opportunities to promote Washington businesses – which makes it more difficult for our businesses to grow and create jobs. We can’t sit back and hope businesses find us – we need to be hitting the ground running, selling our state and the advantages of doing business here.
Knowing that other states are making trade missions – and other key aerospace states will be represented at the Farnborough Air Show, this is a small investment to ensure a strong economic recovery.
And we know the investment pays off. The governor’s trade mission to France and Germany last year resulted in immediate new contracts that led to new job growth. And her trip to Asia in September of 2010 resulted in $10 million in immediate new sales and contracts. Additionally, following the trip, food export sales to China and Hong Kong grew to $247 million during the recent October to March period, up 29 percent from $191 million during the same period in 2009/10.
Q: Why use tax payer dollars – why not find corporate sponsors to pay for the trip?
A: The governor wants to make sure that Washington taxpayers know that no promises are being made – that she’s not accepting any corporate sponsorship that may appear to have expectations attached. Most importantly, the governor is representing the 720 companies in Washington involved in aerospace, from the very small to the very large.