Five years ago, Boeing executives were preparing for the worst.
The company’s St. Louis, Missouri, plant had lost contracts for the next-generation fighter jet to Lockheed Martin in 2001, and the long-range bomber to Northrup Grumman in 2015. The F/A-18 Super Hornet production line was expected to go dormant in 2017. Foreign orders for the F-15 looked like they’d dry up by the end of 2019.
The company was running out of options to keep its military hub in St. Louis working, according to an article in the St. Louis Business Journal. But then something happened.
Boeing was awarded a series of contracts for its legacy aircraft and began constructing commercial jet wing parts in St. Louis as well. Additionally, the company won two new contracts for the T-7 Air Force trainer, and the MQ-25 Navy refueling drone.
This led to a huge resurgence for Boeing’s Missouri operations. In the past 18 months alone, Boeing’s regional workforce has grown by 2,000 people to about 16,000, according to Shelley Lavender, who leads Boeing’s St. Louis operations.
Recent Contracts won by Boeing’s Missouri plant include:
These victories, and much more across the state, highlight the many reasons why Missouri is the best location for aerospace and defense companies to grow and succeed: talent, a history of success, and an existing supply chain thanks to an abundance of 100+ world-class aerospace and defense companies.
Today, more than 16,000 of Missouri’s highly trained workers build the F/A-18, EA-18, F-15 and T-7 Trainer fighter jets, along with the new unmanned MQ-25 refueling drone, at Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security facilities, along with a huge array of military ordinance.
But Missouri doesn’t just rest on its existing talent.
In 2007, after leaders at Boeing expressed concerns about the lack of skilled assembly technicians in the pipeline to replace the large numbers of baby boomers nearing retirement, the State of Missouri and St. Louis Community College teamed up to respond accordingly. St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group and the Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing formed a joint venture with Boeing to develop and implement its customized, unique Pre-employment Training Program, creating an ongoing pool of skilled employment for the company and the region.
The award-winning program is based upon curriculum provided by Boeing, including hands-on performance demonstration projects. Each session of the program provides 408 hours of instruction in aircraft assembly techniques, work instructions, teamwork, interview skills and resume writing.
And this talent isn’t specific to Boeing; statewide Missouri is home to 100+ aerospace manufacturing and defense companies. Boeing, Arnold Defense, GKN Aerospace, Honeywell, EaglePicher, LMI Aerospace, Seyer Industries, PAS Technologies, Leonardo DRS and more, companies in Missouri are leading the world in building and maintaining world-class aerospace and defense products.
This cluster of world-class companies means that area is the perfect location for suppliers and other businesses that support the aerospace and defense industry. Thus, allowing new companies in the area to have instant access to an existing supply chain that you can only find in Missouri.
This resurgence in aerospace and defense manufacturing, along with the abundance of highly skilled and available talent make Missouri a prime choice for manufacturers looking to expand their business in the U.S.