Some 150 people representing more than 20 aerospace suppliers as well as government agencies, banks, schools and others connected to the industry turned out for the inaugural Pierce County Aerospace Summit Friday at the University of Washington Tacoma.
The keynote speaker, Drew Magill, director of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told attendees that Boeing predicts the global market will need 34,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years, and Pierce County aerospace suppliers can help the company compete for that business by finding ways to work faster while providing a safe, efficient and reliable product.
“It’s really important that we increase production rates and deliver these planes at a higher rate and a higher quality,” said Magill. “We’re very confident we can build the most fuel-efficient, most reliable airplanes, and we can be successful in this market for the next 20 years.”
Magill added the company is working with suppliers to increase production to address a backlog of 3,900 airplane orders valued at $302 billion. Boeing feels the pressure because it expects to see more competition from manufacturers in China, Brazil, Canada and Japan, in addition to the fierce rivalry with European manufacturer Airbus.
Aerospace Summit participants also heard panel discussions about workforce training, taxes and financing, organizational development and other resources that are available to the local industry. Panelists represented WorkForce Central, Invista Performance Solutions, Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition, Washington State Department of Commerce, U.S. Bank, Moss Adams and General Plastics.
Pierce County is home to more than 80 companies that work in composites and plastics, tooling, fabrication and machining, software, metals and engineering, as well as the Boeing plant in Frederickson that employs 1,700 people. A new coalition of about two dozen organizations has formed the Tacoma Pierce Aerospace Partners. The coalition’s goals are to retain and grow current companies and attract new business. It is also developing an online resource for local suppliers here.
“As Boeing showed us today, the supply chain must work together to quickly deliver the planes that are already ordered as well as keep up with increasing global demand,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Our goal is to help local companies connect with each other and with available resources so they can tap into the growth of this industry. When they grow, our local economy grows.”