BY WARREN L. WISE
Posted: September 24, 2014
Hundreds more jobs are landing in the Lowcountry with the Boeing Co.
The Chicago-based airplane manufacturer said Tuesday it has leased a 104,000-square-foot building at Crosspoint in Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston. The site will be office and laboratory space for its new research center where 300-400 people will be employed.
The new Research & Technology Center-South Carolina, as it’s being called, will open later this year. It will focus on advanced manufacturing technology and composite fuselage manufacturing.
The building is just down the road from Boeing’s Interiors Responsibility Center, where bins, partitions and other cabin parts are made for the 787 Dreamliner.
It also is near the company’s new Propulsion South Carolina plant, which is under construction, behind the cabin parts factory.
The propulsion plant will start making engine inlet components for the new 737 MAX line of single-aisle airplanes next year.
Boeing makes parts for and assembles the Dreamliner at its main North Charleston campus beside Charleston International Airport, less than 10 miles from the new research facility.
“This research center brings our technology organization and Boeing South Carolina closer together to transition technology from research and development to our commercial airplane and defense products faster and more efficiently,” said Lane Ballard, site leader of the research center and vice president of materials and manufacturing technology for Boeing.
Boeing announced in December the facility will create 300 to 400 jobs as part of the company’s research and technology restructuring, which established research centers in Alabama, California, Missouri, South Carolina and Washington state.
At the time, the company did not say where the new site would be in the Lowcountry.
The new jobs are part of the 2,000 new positions the company said it would create by 2020 after it secured a $120 million incentive deal for infrastructure development from the state in April 2013 in exchange for another $1 billion investment in South Carolina.
Boeing currently employs about 7,500 people at its local facilities near the airport and in Palmetto Commerce Park.
In December, about 75 of those worked in research and development. Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger declined to say how many are currently employed locally in the research sector.
Local Boeing chief Jack Jones said in a statement that new center “continues to demonstrate our commitment to the state of South Carolina by bringing new technology and capabilities to North Charleston.”
When fully operational, scientists, technologists, technicians and engineers will work at the center, leading research and development efforts in automation and assembly, systems installation, chemical technology, nondestructive evaluation, composite fabrication and repair, and electromagnetic effects, modeling and characterization.
The center will also include an autoclave, paint booth and a clean-room lab.
The North Charleston R&D site joins a worldwide list of 11 Boeing research centers in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Russia and the United States, including Alabama, California, Missouri and Washington.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
Originally published in The Post and Courier