Should Boeing Build Its New 777X Plane in Puerto Rico?

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Above: the Boeing 777X (Photo: Boeing)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing still looking for a place to build its planned 777X aircraft, and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi is urging the island’s Governor to submit a formal bid to host its assembly in Puerto Rico.

The 777X is scheduled to begin assembly operations in 2017, with the first commercial flights slated for 2020.

The company says it would be the “largest and most efficient” twin-engine jet in the world.

“In light of the economic and fiscal challenges that Puerto Rico confronts, we need to think big and aim high,” Pierluisi said earlier this month. “To achieve success, the first step is to be prepared to compete.  Evidently, more than 20 states have submitted proposals to Boeing. If the Governor of Puerto Rico has not yet done so, he should immediately contact Boeing with the purpose of submitting a good proposal.”

Pierluisi said that courting Boeing could help a territory that continues to face a major economic and fiscal crisis.

“The Governor and his economic team should advise Boeing that Puerto Rico is a US jurisdiction that is home to thousands of skilled and productive workers.  Our universities and community colleges have excellent engineering, aerospace and advanced manufacturing programs,” he said. “According to PRIDCO, about 40 percent of college graduates in Puerto Rico have degrees in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Indeed, many of these graduates move to the states to work for companies like Boeing and federal agencies like NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration,” said the Resident Commissioner.”

Several aerospace companies already operate in Puerto Rico, including Honeywell Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney-Infotech Enterprises and Lockheed Martin, among others.

“The state governments that are competing to build the 777X in their jurisdictions have been enacting special tax legislation to attract Boeing,” Pierluisi said. “The Governor should explain to Boeing that Puerto Rico could offer the company very attractive tax and other benefits under existing law, including Law 73 of 2008.”

The latter allows Puerto Rico to offer corporate tax rates of between 1 percent and 4 percent for up to 15 years, among other benefits.
But where would a potential Boeing plant be located?

Pierluisi said locations could include the Roosevelt Roads naval base in Ceiba or the former air base in Aguadilla, among others.