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Charleston Airport makes final four for plant

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Cecil left off short list for aircraft plant

Tony Quesada

Cecil Commerce Center is out of the running to become the home for a future military refueling plane assembly plant that could employ more than 1,000 people.

EADS North America, which is looking for a U.S. production site to bid against The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) for a contract to build the U.S. Air Force's next refueling plane, has narrowed the field to four locations in the Southeast: Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne; Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss.; Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, S.C.; and Mobile Downtown Airport in Mobile, Ala.

The Arlington, Va.-based company has sent requests for proposals to economic development officials in those communities.

Cecil Commerce Center is in Jacksonville FL.

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Cecil left off short list for aircraft plant

Tony Quesada

Cecil Commerce Center is out of the running to become the home for a future military refueling plane assembly plant that could employ more than 1,000 people.

EADS North America, which is looking for a U.S. production site to bid against The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) for a contract to build the U.S. Air Force's next refueling plane, has narrowed the field to four locations in the Southeast: Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne; Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss.; Charleston International Airport in ...Charleston, S.C.; and Mobile Downtown Airport in Mobile, Ala.

The Arlington, Va.-based company has sent requests for proposals to economic development officials in those communities.

Cecil Commerce Center is in Jacksonville FL. 

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Oh boy, I will keep my fingers crossed for this one. If EADS comes to Charleston, the city will become a haven for more aeronautics companies and plants to locate there. Charleston needs more high-income jobs to really increase the areas economic strength. Landing another plant, IMO, could start an avalanche of more high-end companies to come here and then my hometown will officially be a boomtown.

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Charleston has a very good chance of landing this project. We happen to be in the right situation at the right time. I really hope our officials go into this prepared and willing to do what it takes to bring this company to Charleston.

Adding another aeronautics plant like this one would be a sure fire way to entice other smaller companies (ie suppliers) to locate here in the Charleston area.

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Out of the cities mentioned, it seems that Charleston will be the place the company chooses.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I was thinking the same thing after looking at the list of potential locations. Unless something goes terribly wrong we should be in good shape.

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Why is it that everyone thinks Charleston will get it as opposed to any of these other places?

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This would be great for Charleston! With Boeing and the EADS facility....man, this city would take off! Go Charleston! Keeping our fingers crossed!

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Why is it that everyone thinks Charleston will get it as opposed to any of these other places?

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I guess it's simply optimism...obviously any of the places listed has just as good of a chance as Charleston. But I do think that it will come down to Charleston and Mobile. Mobile has some good things going for it right now, so I would assume that city looks pretty favorable right now.

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Why is it that everyone thinks Charleston will get it as opposed to any of these other places?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, the other choices don't seem to have as much notoriety...nor the better infrastructure than my hometown. Melbourne? It has I-95, but its airport is very small...the only other advantage is its proximity to Orlando and nearby Port Canaveral. Mobile has some advantages with its redevelopment and Renaissance of the DT area. It also is a port with access to I-10, a southern transcontinental interstate!

However, Charleston has the most momentum from Vought's plant creating an aerospace industry cluster, the biggest port, the largest airport, good infrastructure, and excellent quality of life. The BIGGEST boost for Charleston is the existence of the Air Force base coupled with the international airport. With Air Force structure and organization already implanted there, EADS will definitely want Air Force pilots for their input and for flight testing. The Air Force organization would also give EADS quick access to Air Force and other government officials for opinions and planning.

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Good points CN. And the fact that Charleston already has a miliary presence (Navy) should factor in positively as well.

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what it will really come down to is what region/state is willing to offer the most alluring economic package.....assuming that EADS actually gets the contract.

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It was very unfortunate for Charleston not to get this plant. Even though there is the port, one problem may have been Interstate connections. Mobile has Interstates 10 and 65 to work with to transport supplies across the gulf coast and upward into the midwest. If Charleston haz another major interstate (which it actually needs), then perhaps it could attract another major business.

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An excerpt that I read from an Alabama publication said, "Ralph D. Crosby, chairman and CEO of EADS North America...said Mobile was chosen because it is 'strategically located' on the Gulf of Mexico, with a skilled work force, airport runways and a deep-water port." Of course, this is rather skim considering that Charleston and the other potentials had all of these advantages (except being located on the Gulf; this is true only of the Mississippi location). I'm not really sure how the "skilled work force" part was assessed. As far as college degrees go, the 2000 census reported Mobile as having 24.9% of its population (25+ years) possessing bachelor's degrees, compared with 37.5% for Charleston. Perhaps the company was looking at something specialized in the labor market of which Mobile had an advantage over Charleston. Also, as far as airport runways are concerned, it is possible that the length of the runways were considered over width and weight capacity, since Charleston's airstrip is barely 9,000 ft. (the minimum that Airbus required) but is 200 ft. wide (Mobile's is only 150 ft. wide) and can handle at least 25% more weight than Mobile's. Maybe Mobile's location on the Gulf was the key thing that landed them the plant.

But hey, you know how politics work....

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According to an article in today's edition of The State, here's what it came down to: "South Carolina offered Airbus a North Charleston site within six miles of one of the nation

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From what I understand SC offered around 200mil in incentives FL 300mil or so and AL offered up 400mil+. This is the second 'large' project like this that AL won over Chs, SC. We were a candidate city for the Mercedes plant also.

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Reading the news the past few days brought up memories of this proposal. It's a shame Charleston didn't win over EADS for this assembly plant because it seems they have won the $40bn contract to produce these planes.

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