NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The movement of a mound of dirt has become the iconic symbol of a shift in South Carolina's economic and business landscape for generations to come.
Leaders from across the Lowcountry and the state gathered in North Charleston Friday morning to break ground on the new $750 million Boeing assembly plant. The new facility is the most expensive investment in the state's history.
The plant will assemble Boeing's newest aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner. It will be the second facility to manufacture the aircraft in the country.
“This groundbreaking sets into motion what we believe will be revolutionary and indeed generational changes to our state’s economy,“ said Gov. Mark Sanford. “Not only for the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in investment - in fact, the largest announcement in South Carolina history - but also for the way Boeing’s expansion will spur on an already growing aerospace hub in our state, this is extremely good news.“
The new plant is expected to create several thousand jobs within seven years and construction could mean up to an additional 2,000 jobs.
The promise of jobs coming into the region, on a day when the state released unemployment numbers that breached 12 percent, is a sign of hope for many.
Boeing received an incentives package including a $170 million low-interest construction loan, sales tax exemptions for computers, material and fuel used in test flights.
At the Podium
Friday's invitation-only groundbreaking has attracted VIPs from business and politics. The master of ceremonies is Anita Zucker. The lineup of scheduled speakers includes:
• Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes • U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. • U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. • U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C. • U.S Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. • Gov. Mark Sanford • State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence • State Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston • State Rep. Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston • Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor • North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey