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updated: 12/16/2013 8:49 AM

Indiana vying for Boeing airplane facility

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Associated Press

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says state economic development officials have talked to Boeing Co. about building its planned airplane manufacturing and assembly facility in Indiana.

"We have had contact with them and discussions, but I won't comment further on those," Pence told The Times of Munster. "I will tell you, every opportunity that we are given to tell Indiana's story and make the case for Indiana -- we do."

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Boeing Co., which is based in Chicago, began soliciting bids last month for a site to build its new 777X airplane and hopes to make a final decision on a site early next year. Fifteen states are 15 states competing for the $10 billion facility that could employ up to 8,500 workers by 2024.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said Indiana would be a logical selection because, according to documents obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Boeing wants to build the facility next to an airport with a 9,000-foot runway, have highway and road access for parts deliveries and a direct rail connection on a dedicated spur line. A nearby port capable of handling regular and oversized containers also is "desired."

Soliday said northwest Indiana meets all the road, rail, port and airport connections Boeing is seeking and the state has a strong manufacturing workforce, and Purdue University is well known for its aeronautics programs.

Soliday, a pilot and former United Airlines executive, said the soon-to-be completed 8,900-foot runway at Gary-Chicago International Airport, which is already home to Boeing's Midwest corporate jet fleet, "is as good as 9,000."

Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Fort Wayne all have airport runways exceeding 9,000 feet.

Katelyn Hancock, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's commerce agency, said it has worked to show Boeing how Indiana would fit into the company's long-term plans.

Other states that are seeking to land the project include Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington state, Alabama, California, Pennsylvania and Kansas.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

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