Alabama Prepared To Play Ball For Big Boeing Deal

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Boeing set a deadline for proposals from locales looking to build their 777x jetliner.

It's Tuesday.

There's a flurry of activity going on in Alabama, as leaders try to land the big deal.

We spoke with a variety of sources at all levels of government over the past few weeks.
Everyone's keeping details close to the vest.

It was difficult to even get officials on the phone Monday, because of the mad dash to get proposals finalized.

However, everyone spoken with says all the necessary parties are doing their part to make the most attractive offer possible. That goes from people in the mayor's office to people in the governor's office to the state legislature.

Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) says the state legislature should support the efforts of Governor Robert Bentley, "Historically, the Alabama legislature has stepped up and been supportive of the governor for whatever we need to do to deliver on anything he may have in his package."

Boeing reportedly seeks quite a bit to move production of its new plane, and proposals have come in from all over the country.

If Alabama wants to build Boeing's big birds, it may have to pony up.

But members of the legislature believe they can bypass a lot of the usual grumblings, if they're asked to provide incentives.

Ball notes, "Partisan politics tends to stop when it comes to economic development, and everybody pretty well works together."

Still Alabama's legislature takes notoriously conservative stances that could get in the way of providing public incentive for a private business, but Representative Ball suggests pragmatism will rule the day, "We understand the competitive environment, and we'll be in there."

Meanwhile, it's easy for people to get caught up in comparing incentives when considering the Boeing deal.  However, Ball says that's not a particularly practical pursuit, "They try to add up the dollars of the various economic incentive packages, but there's a lot more to it than that."

He adds the state legislature has given Boeing plenty of reasons to move new production to Alabama - many of them created before the aerospace giant even asked for proposals, "Well, we have some things already in place.  During the last session we just passed a very forward thinking TIF bill that would allow companies who build to get a break on their future property tax to help reimburse them."

Boeing would definitely mark that as a plus when considering moving production to Huntsville, but it might not make a list of new incentives offered.

It's just an asset the state has for companies like Boeing.

It's worked before.

Ball points out, "You know, there's a reason that Airbus chose Mobile, the Mobile area, and it's obviously because of the business environment that we have here in Alabama."

He assures we're right in the hunt for this new jet, "I know that some of the places out West are downplaying our chances, but they don't know us very well."

They may know us a lot better real soon.

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