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Gov. Pritzker Announces Boeing's $200 Million Manufacturing Investment in New U.S. Navy Aircraft in Metro East

Press Release - Friday, September 17, 2021

Boeing to Build a State-of-the-Art Facility, Creating Hundreds of Advanced Manufacturing Jobs

Illinois to Help Produce U.S. Navy's First Carrier-Based Unmanned Aircraft

MASCOUTAH -Governor JB Pritzker joined Boeing and community leaders to announce that the company will be investing $200 million to build a state-of-the-art facility to produce the MQ-25 Stingray, the U.S. Navy's first carrier-based unmanned aircraft. The new 291,000 square-foot facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, scheduled to begin construction later this year, will help support nearly 300 good jobs for the Metro East region over the next three years.

"The world's largest aerospace company is doubling down on Illinois because of our unparalleled assets in the transportation and logistics sector and the world-class talent of our people," said Governor JB Pritzker. "To prepare our communities for the future, my administration is committed to making continued investments that will modernize our airports, spark new innovation and bring jobs and economic opportunities to our communities from Chicago to St. Clair and beyond. I want to thank the Boeing Company for their vote of confidence in Illinois, as well as St Clair County leadership and the MidAmerica Airport team for giving companies another reason to choose Illinois."

"Boeing has been an institution in the St. Louis region for decades, employing today more than 15,000 people who help spur our state's economic growth," U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. "The MQ-25 Stingray represents the future of the U.S. navy's aircraft carrier mission.  While Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense, I was proud to support more than $1.4 billion in Navy investments in this aircraft over the last four fiscal years.  I was proud to announce earlier this year—alongside my colleague, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth—that MidAmerica Airport received a $12.6 million federal grant for its expansion project from the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program and COVID-19 relief packages. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I look forward to continuing to invest in a robust domestic aerospace industry that bring jobs to Illinois."

"Investments like these are great news for the Metro East region and all of Illinois, helping to modernize our airports, advance our already strong transportation and logistics sector and ensure we're providing the best available equipment and technology to our servicemembers," U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said. "I'll continue working with Governor Pritzker, Senator Durbin and local community members to help deliver good-paying jobs and economic opportunity to every corner of our state."

The new production center will bring 300 jobs to the Metro East community - with initial plans to hire approximately 150 mechanics, engineers and support staff who will build the MQ-25TM StingrayTM.  This project was made possible in part by an EDGE agreement from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), a tool used to support companies making large scale capital investments that lead to significant job creation. As part of its agreement with the State, Boeing has committed to an initial investment of at least $200 million over a 15-year period.

The innovative MQ-25 facility will include state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, including robotic automation and advanced assembly techniques, to improve product quality and employee ergonomics. Boeing digitally engineered the MQ-25 aircraft and its systems, resulting in high-fidelity models that drive quality and efficient production. The new facility is expected to be completed in early 2024, and aircraft production is projected to begin in the start of FY 2024.

"The team and state-of-the-art technology we're bringing to the Navy's MQ-25 program is unprecedented, and we're incredibly proud to be expanding both as we build the future of autonomous systems in Illinois," said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "We've received great support from MidAmerica Airport and countless dedicated employees, and we're excited to build the Navy's first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft right here in the Metro East."

The new MQ-25 facility will be in addition to existing manufacturing operations at Boeing St. Clair, which produces components for the CH-47 Chinook, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and other defense products.

Boeing's investments in Mascoutah are the latest in a series to prepare MidAmerica St. Louis Airport for future growth. Fueled by $57 million in Rebuild Illinois capital funds, the airport will deliver the airport will deliver taxiway and airfield enhancements surrounding the new Boeing production facility and significant upgrades to the passenger terminal facility.

"We congratulate Boeing on their partnership with the U.S. Navy and are excited to support their increased presence here in Illinois," said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia.  "Thanks to key investments made under Governor Pritzker's leadership, Illinois continues to support the growth of our aviation ecosystem - launching cutting edge technology and creating long term job opportunities for Illinoisans."

"A more robust, healthier system of aviation is one of the main reasons why Illinois continues to strengthen its status as the transportation hub of North America under Gov. Pritzker," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. "These improvements will position this region and the state to build stronger connections between the modes of transportation and compete economically for generations to come."

"St. Clair County is very thankful for Governor Pritzker's continued focus and investment in our community. We have been honored to be home to Boeing St. Clair at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport for over a decade," said St. Clair County Board Chair Mark Kern. "The jobs and economic opportunities provided by Boeing's presence and growth propel this entire region forward, and it wouldn't be possible without the support and investment from the State of Illinois."

"The investments being made at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport by Boeing and the State of Illinois are a great example of how we can bring public and private partners together to maximize the benefit for the region and for those around the world who rely on the airport," said Airport Director Bryan Johnson. "These latest investments will generate significant revenue for the airport, increase operations, reinforce our strong relationship with Boeing, create local jobs, catalyze further development at the airport and create further synergies with Scott Air Force Base."

"MidAmerica Airport is already a major job creator and enormous asset to the Metro East," said State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea). "This monumental expansion will not only bring our region the honor of producing state-of-the-art aircraft carrier aviation for the U.S. Navy—it will create hundreds of new jobs and keep our economy strong."

"This $200M dollar commitment is putting our state in the forefront of aerospace technology, while also providing communities like Mascoutah with the resources they need to thrive by adding additional jobs to the local economy and developing much-needed infrastructure for the local business community." said State Representative LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis), Majority Conference Chairperson.

Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, is one of 38 global companies based in Illinois that are ranked on the Fortune 500 - more than anywhere in the Midwest. To support the growth of leading manufacturing companies, the Pritzker administration is investing in infrastructure that will help build a pipeline of talent and ensure companies have the resources needed to compete and thrive in Illinois. This includes the announcement of a new $10 million aviation training academy by the Governor earlier this week, that will help Illinois keep pace and prepare its residents for evolving technology as well as growing jobs in the aviation sector that are forecasted to come to Illinois.

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