St. Louis Business Journal: Boeing makes $5M contribution for advanced manufacturing center in St. Louis
Boeing just announced last Friday that it will be making a $5 million contribution for the development of the proposed Advanced Manufacturing Center in St. Louis.
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By James DrewReporter, St. Louis Business Journal
The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) announced Friday it is contributing $5 million to develop a proposed advanced manufacturing center in St. Louis that backers predict will create thousands of high-paying jobs in the region.
The donation spread over five years is the first industry contribution to the project and comes at a time when the St. Louis region is vying for a multimillion-dollar federal grant.
“For the Boeing Co., this partnership is strategic for many reasons,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing Phantom Works, which develops advanced military products and technologies. “An advanced manufacturing center like this will accelerate the Midwest, more specifically St. Louis, as a technology and innovation hub for all of our industries.”
Plans call for the center to be located in north St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood adjacent to the campus of Ranken Technical College, which is the operating partner for the project.
Former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg is chairman of the board of directors of the nonprofit group, the St. Louis Regional Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Center (AMICSTL). It was formed in May 2020 to advance the project.
Muilenburg said the center will benefit not only big companies like Boeing. It also will help build supply chain and manufacturing start-ups and focus on agricultural, automotive, construction, biomedical and geospatial technologies.
“Imagine people coming to a place where you can see the most advanced manufacturing going on across those sectors and experts from each area able to trade knowledge, collaborate and build new capabilities for the future,” said Muilenburg, who spoke at the Boeing plant in St. Louis where the contribution was announced.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis and Saint Louis University will collaborate on research and development at the center.
Boeing ranks second among the St. Louis area’s largest manufacturers, with 2,500 local employees as of the second quarter of this year, according to Business Journal research. Workers at Boeing plants in St. Charles, St. Louis, and Mascoutah, Illinois, build and produce weapons and military aircraft, including the F-15, F-18, T-7A trainer, and the MQ-25 unmanned refueler.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said the proposed advanced manufacturing center will create opportunities for residents of north St. Louis and north St. County to find careers in good-paying jobs.
“I often say that our children can’t be what they can’t see and imagine what our babies will see when they see this facility in the middle of north St. Louis. It’s this kind of investment that makes our neighborhoods safer and stronger in the long run,” she said.
Muilenburg told the Business Journal that leaders of the project expect dozens of other private sector companies to follow Boeing’s lead in making contributions. The project is estimated to cost $55 million to $60 million. The goal is to break ground later this year, with major construction starting next year and the center opening by 2025.
Late late year, the proposed advanced manufacturing center was named as one of 60 finalists in the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” and received $500,000 toward the project.
The federal government selected the 60 finalists for its competition from 529 applicants. The regional coalition that includes Greater St. Louis Inc. submitted its proposal in March for the second phase of the regional challenge.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration may award 20 to 30 groups up to $50 million each for their proposed projects. An announcement could come as soon as September.
Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis Inc., said Boeing’s contribution sends a clear message to decision-makers in Washington, D.C.
“You have one of the most recognized brands in advanced manufacturing making a huge investment; this community coming together with the city, county, state, local, the business community. We’re on one page, one message and we’re ready to receive this massive investment,” he said.
Citing a cover story in The Economist magazine, Hall said capital and manufacturing jobs over the past several decades flowed to “low-cost places” for efficiency.
“In today’s era – post China-Taiwan, post Russia-Ukraine, post-COVID – manufacturing is flowing to your friends, places you can trust and in places where you can have resiliency in your supply chain.
“A big trend is happening. Now put St. Louis into that trend. Right here in the heart of the country, with the multi-modal transportation infrastructure and a deep rich heritage of manufacturing and a workforce and university system around innovation, we are in a perfect spot to ride that big global wave to win the next generation of manufacturing jobs,” Hall said.