Today’s announcement that Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson will be retiring by year’s end has to be considered another blow to the region’s effort to secure the second production line for the troubled 787. Carson, a WSU grad who joined Boeing in 1973, made no secret of his passion for a competitive Boeing Company, famously telling leaders of business and government at the Prosperity Partnership’s annual meeting that “location is a choice.”
As important, Carson remained deeply committed to the belief that the company could succeed here in Washington. Now, with critical decisions being made, our state loses one of the few remaining executives with deep roots here. In the end, as from the beginning of this current competition, the decision won’t be based on relationships and tradition. Boeing, facing intense global competition, will look to the bottom line: the business climate, labor relations, costs, incentives and the like. Even so, when important decisions are being made, it’s good to have a hometown champion at the table.
We’ve just lost one. It doesn’t mean we’ve lost the business. It does mean that state political, business and labor leaders must step up their efforts to convince Boeing leadership that Washington is the best choice for business.