NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A year and a half after construction crews broke ground on Boeing's North Charleston manufacturing plant, it is complete.
The plant is the size of 11 football fields and large enough to hold the water of 450 Olympic swimming pools and now the Boeing final assembly building for the 787 Dreamliner is open.
"In this building, our talented Boeing South Carolina teammates are going to assemble the finest, most technologically advanced commercial widebody airplane in history," said Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina.
Government and Boeing officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the North Charleston plant Friday morning.
"We can't wait to see those mack daddy planes come out of here," Gov. Nikki Haley said with excitement.
The building is huge and includes 18,000 tons of steel and millions of feet of concrete. Workers put in more than 3.8 million hours of time to complete the facility.
Officials described Friday as a magical moment, a proud day and a testimony of the skill of the people in the state of South Carolina.
"This is testimony to the skill testimony to the willingness of the people of this state to build perfection and impact the world. This is the game changer," said Congressman Jim Clyburn.
The plant is six months ahead of schedule. Boeing and its construction company partners broke ground on the facility back in Nov. 2009. Production of the dreamliner is set to begin next month.
"Our works and citizens are the best and most productive in the United States of America," said Sen. Glenn McConnell.
The opening of the plant has been overshadowed by a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Union Board. The board has accused Boeing of unfair labor practices by moving its second assembly line to North Charleston to punish the union for past strikes. The NLRB is recommending the South Carolina 787 assembly work be moved back to Washington State.
"Boeing is not going to leave South Carolina," Sen. Lindsey Graham said."The statehouse has your back, the government has your back. We earned the right to build airplanes here and no one is going to take that away."
The plant will include space to build the 787 Dreamliner, house offices and provide places to eat for employees.
"We could not be more thrilled to be celebrating a great American company in the great state of South Carolina," Haley said.