Analysis: Boeing Alabama impact reaches $2.3 billion

Analysis: Boeing Alabama impact reaches $2.3 billion
Boeing's Research and Technology Center in Huntsville augments the company's longtime role in the city's aerospace and defense industry. (Boeing)

Boeing Co.’s impact on the Alabama economy totals $2.3 billion a year, according to a new analysis that highlights how the aerospace giant supports a highly skilled, technical workforce in the state.

The University of Alabama study found that Boeing’s presence in the state sustains almost 8,400 direct and indirect jobs across Alabama. It also found that annual pay for Boeing’s 2,750 Alabama employees is more than twice the Alabama average.

Boeing in Alabama has taken a lead role in developing the Space Launch System, NASA’s most powerful rocket. (Boeing)

“Boeing is stronger than ever as we launch into our second century,” said Jim Chilton, president of Boeing’s Network & Space Systems. “We continue our commitments to customers, our employees and the communities where we live and work.

“We are proud to be partners in the state of Alabama,” he said.

The analysis, released last week, outlined Boeing’s economic impacts in 2015, when it:

  • Supported 8,393 direct and industry jobs in the state.
  • Distributed an annual payroll of $264 million in Alabama.
  • Spent an additional $749 million in the state, including $532 million to suppliers.
  • Contributed nearly $1.7 million to nonprofit organizations.

“Boeing’s presence in Alabama is a significant driver of economic activity in the state, employing a highly skilled workforce and offering high-paying jobs for critical skills,” said Sam Addy, associate dean of economic development outreach at UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.

Advancing technology

Boeing’s involvement in Alabama began when it set up operations to advance the initial development of the Saturn V rocket’s Stage 1 booster. The company’s Huntsville workforce, which started with a handful of employees in 1962, has remained active in the space program ever since.

Today, Boeing’s Alabama workforce is taking a lead role in developing NASA’s Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket the space agency has ever developed.

Boeing’s Alabama operations are also heavily involved in U.S. missile defense programs. Its Strategic Missile Defense Systems is based in Huntsville, as is the Ground-based Midcourse Defense, the nation’s only shield against long-range ballistic missile attacks.

Boeing opened its Alabama Research & Technology Center in Huntsville in June 2015, building on its long-standing presence in the Rocket City. (Boeing)

In June 2015, Boeing officially opened a new research and technology center in Huntsville as the company’s hub for collaboration with academic institutions and research partners in analytics and simulation in the Southeast.

“Boeing has been active in Alabama for more than a half a century, with its engineers and researchers in Huntsville playing key roles in the nation’s space program and critical missile defense programs, while also exploring new technologies to advance aerospace,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“As Alabama’s largest aerospace company, Boeing has helped the state build a significant presence in an industry with a solid future,” he said.

Addy and UA’s Center for Business and Economic Research prepared the Boeing economic impact study. A similar analysis in 2005 found that Boeing’s economic impact on Alabama was $1.5 billion that year.

“The study shows that Boeing’s innovative technology solutions are in high demand and that Alabamians are driving innovation at the forefront of aerospace and defense industries,” said U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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