Boeing decision on new headquarters expected soon

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2001

SEATTLE -- Boeing Co. has asked how it can reach the governors of Colorado, Illinois and Texas at a moment's notice over the next few days, raising expectations the company is close to saying where it will move its headquarters.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's spokesperson Kathy Walt said the governor was told by Boeing officials that when the final decision is made, Boeing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Phil Condit would take off in the company jet with three possible flight plans. The governor's office was told to expect an in-flight call revealing the jet's destination, she said.

Boeing did not say when the flight and the call might be made, Walt said.

Officials in the offices of Illinois Gov. George Ryan and Colorado Gov. Bill Owens likewise said they were given no further information on a possible decision.

Boeing said in March that it would move its headquarters from Seattle, where it was founded in 1916, to Chicago, Denver or Dallas-Fort Worth.

That kicked off a heated competition by the cities and their state leaders to attract the aerospace giant and the 500 headquarters jobs.

Boeing executives have said they wanted to announce their decision by mid-May, but have been careful to not tip their hands.

That hasn't kept them from teasing.

Speaking Tuesday night at the 2001 Asia Pacific Cities Summit here, Condit joked that, ''Sitting at the table, I thought of all sorts of interesting things I could say, like where we're going to move.''

He quickly added: ''I'm not going to.''

Boeing spokesperson John Dern on Wednesday would not say what city might be the front-runner, or when or how the decision on the winner would be announced. He said Boeing's site-selection team had completed its research and was meeting to discuss options, and that the final decision would be made by Condit.

''We are making contingency plans in all three cities,'' Dern said, adding that the announcement would come in the city of Boeing's choice.

Dern said Boeing wants to tell company employees first, then make the announcement public.

Boeing has reserved advertising space in Denver's two daily newspapers, said Jim Nolan, spokesperson for the Denver Newspaper Agency, which handles business functions for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. He said Boeing did not specify the date or content of the ad.

Spokespeople for the major Dallas and Chicago dailies declined to comment on whether advertising space had been reserved.

Since announcing plans to move, Boeing representatives have toured all three cities, with each offering incentives such as tax breaks.

Analysts have speculated Chicago might have the advantage, citing the city's proximity to other major cities and its large airport.

''That would be my guess,'' said Paul Nisbet, an aerospace analyst with JSA Research.

Boeing's relocated corporate staff will be leaner, employing under 500 employees, half its current staff, Condit has said.

The company will keep its giant aircraft factories and design and development facilities in the Seattle area.

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