ROCKFORD (AP) — Rockford was a finalist for a massive Boeing plant before the aerospace company reached a deal with a union and agreed to build its 777X planes near Seattle, state officials said.
David Roeder, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said Chicago-based Boeing narrowed 54 proposed locations for the multibillion-dollar factory down to about five — one of which included Rockford.
"It speaks very well for the Rockford region how seriously Boeing took the Illinois proposal," he told The Rockford Register Star.
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder told the Chicago Sun-Times that he wouldn't say which sites were being considered as finalists before Boeing opted to locate the facility. At least 22 states including Illinois were trying to win the assembly plant and its 8,500 jobs.
Boeing began looking for a new location to build the successor to its popular 777 after union workers in Washington state rejected a deal that would have kept the work there.
But Boeing agreed last week to build the new plane in Washington state after a machinists' union narrowly approved an eight-year contract. As part of the agreement, the company said the 777X and its composite wing would be built in the Puget Sound area by Boeing employees represented by the union.
Boeing is still making supply-chain decisions for the plane and officials hope Rockford is being considered.
"We are proactively telling Boeing that we are ready to be a production facility for them and we are actively pursuing that avenue," Adam Pollet, director for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, told Crain's Chicago Business.
Alder said Boeing would likely make supply chain decisions "in the coming months."
Boeing began offering the 777X in May, and company officials have said they needed to move swiftly to decide where the plane will be built.
Boeing has said the 777X is expected to carry as many as 400 passengers and be more fuel efficient than the current 777.