A letter signed by Quad-City mayors that went out earlier this week to the governors of Iowa and Illinois asking for help in submitting a proposal for an airplane plant that would employ 8,500 is about two weeks late.
The deadline for submitting proposals to Boeing to build a plant for its 777X was Dec. 10, according to news reports, with 22 states submitting 54 potential sites.
The letter signed by Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher, Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, East Moline Mayor John Thodos, Moline Mayor Scott Raes, Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley, Rock Island County Board chairman Phil Banaszek and Scott County Board chairman Larry Minard was sent out Monday.
The Associated Press reported the company already has begun notifying states of their status on the list of sites being considered.
Iowa wasn't invited to submit a proposal but has asked Boeing if an opportunity remains to be considered, said Tina Hoffman, spokeswoman for the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development has submitted several "compelling" proposals to Boeing, spokeswoman Izabela Miltko. The state has a non-disclosure agreement with the aerospace company.
"We think we have several locations that qualify but can’t disclose them," she said Thursday. "We haven't received any direct indication from the company."
Quad-Cities First tracked the highly charged union negotiations between Boeing and the machinists union that spurred the sudden search for a new production site. Among the physical requirements were significant acreage that is adjacent to an airport with a 9,000-foot runway and access to rail.
Quad-City International Airport has a 10,000-foot runway, while Davenport Airport's longest runway is 5,500 feet, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Boeing also is seeking significant financial incentives.
"Quad-Cities First went after that one to see if we met the standards of their project," said Paul Rumler, who leads the economic development agency. "It comes down to having a site that meets it. Right now, we are limited in our abilities to meet that requirement."
The letter, on Bi-State Regional Commission stationery but penned by Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin, lays out the Quad-Cities' assets, including rail, air, water and interstate transportation, an AAA-bonded state and Alcoa Davenport Works. Alcoa Inc. is a principal supplier to Boeing.
"We have asked the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce and our bi-state economic development organization Quad-Cities First to collaborate on this initiative, and we commit all our shared economic development resources to this effort," the letter states.
Gluba admits the letter is a shot in the dark, but he hopes it spurs future collaboration when big opportunities like the Boeing plant arise.
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"This is a good way to think and learn," Gluba said. "These are bold things you have to do — throw things against the wall and see what sticks."
Banaszek, the Rock Island County Board chairman, said that when he was approached seeking support for a project that could bring in 8,500 jobs, he said it was a "no-brainer" to sign the letter. He wasn't told that the submittal deadline had passed.
"That is why we employ the services of Bi-State and the chamber so hopefully we can be more fully in the loop," Banaszek said.
Rumler, who recently took over Quad-Cities First, thinks the idea behind the letter is a positive one.
"Right now, we’re saying the Quad-Ciites has the facilities and should be considered for large manufacturers who want to come back to the United States," he said. "We are ready to collaborate.
"We need to put the Quad-Cities in a position to succeed in these types of projects. We need to invest in land or infrastructure or find ways to collaborate in a region like ours."