With apologies to my colleagues from Detroit, Mr. Fournier and Mr. Alberta, President Obama's trip to Washington State today underscores one of the biggest overlooked success stories in American manufacturing: On the shoulders of new products and new airline strategies, Boeing has grown American jobs and its sales figures to record heights -- and this year it's likely to once again become the largest aerospace manufacturer in the world.
Obama will visit Paine Field today, a plant just outside Everett, Washington, where workers are assembling the new 787 Dreamliner commercial airplanes (Paine Field is also the plant where Obama's own airplane, a 747, was constructed). While there, he'll announce new loan programs aimed at spurring export businesses; Boeing itself is providing more than $700 million in credits toward some of its parts suppliers.
While the automotive sector has gotten all the attention of late, the fierce rivalry between Boeing and Airbus has been similarly good for the American manufacturing sector. Boeing itself added a net 10,000 jobs last year, mostly in the Puget Sound region, as it amps up production of its 737, 777 and 787 lines, according to a Boeing spokesman. Airbus is based in Europe, but it has engineering facilities in Kansas and Alabama, and the company claims credit for supporting 180,000 manufacturing positions at suppliers in 40 states.