Ken Hare In Depth: Boeing a long shot, but still worth pursuing - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Ken Hare In Depth: Boeing a long shot, but still worth pursuing

  • THE GREAT OUTDOORSKen Hare's Natural AlabamaMore>>

  • Natural Alabama

    Bird species abound in Northwest Alabama

    Bird species abound in Northwest Alabama

    Sunday, December 3 2017 10:13 AM EST2017-12-03 15:13:06 GMT
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    There are all sorts of ways to bird. Some birders travel thousands of miles to far off lands to see exotic birds. (Exotic to them, of course, but often common to the people who live there.) Others are content to bird a patch within walking distance of their home, and sometimes just in their backyard.

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    There are all sorts of ways to bird. Some birders travel thousands of miles to far off lands to see exotic birds. (Exotic to them, of course, but often common to the people who live there.) Others are content to bird a patch within walking distance of their home, and sometimes just in their backyard.

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  • Natural Alabama

    Boat trip into Mobile-Tensaw Delta is magical

    Boat trip into Mobile-Tensaw Delta is magical

    Sunday, November 5 2017 9:34 AM EST2017-11-05 14:34:07 GMT
    A Bald Eagle soaring over the delta (Photo Ken Hare)A Bald Eagle soaring over the delta (Photo Ken Hare)

    To truly grasp the importance of protecting the Mobile-Tensaw Delta , I recommend a boat trip into the heart of "Alabama's Amazon."

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    To truly grasp the importance of protecting the Mobile-Tensaw Delta , I recommend a boat trip into the heart of "Alabama's Amazon."

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  • Natural Alabama

    Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert

    Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert

    Monday, October 30 2017 6:05 AM EDT2017-10-30 10:05:33 GMT
    Field trip leader Andrew Haffenden points out a warbler at the Fort Morgan stables area. (Photo Ken Hare).jpgField trip leader Andrew Haffenden points out a warbler at the Fort Morgan stables area. (Photo Ken Hare).jpg

    NA Andrew Natural Alabama 10-27-17 Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert By Ken Hare Advice to new birders from anywhere: Get to know good birders, and go with them on trips into the field to see birds whenever you can. It is one of the best ways I know to learn about birds and birding. Advice to new birders who bird (or want to bird) on the Alabama coast: Get to know Andrew Haffenden, and go with him into the field every chance you get.  It is one of the best ways ...

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    NA Andrew Natural Alabama 10-27-17 Australian native now Alabama shorebird expert By Ken Hare Advice to new birders from anywhere: Get to know good birders, and go with them on trips into the field to see birds whenever you can. It is one of the best ways I know to learn about birds and birding. Advice to new birders who bird (or want to bird) on the Alabama coast: Get to know Andrew Haffenden, and go with him into the field every chance you get.  It is one of the best ways ...

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

When he was campaigning for the office of governor, candidate Robert Bentleyessentially said that if elected he would make his tenure all about creatingjobs. So it is understandable that he is going all out to persuade Boeing tobuild its new 777X aircraft here instead of the state of Washington.

So far, the governor's stated goal of creating 250,000 additional jobs seemsunattainable in the final year remaining on his current term of office. Infact, the number of people employed in Alabama remains essentially what it waswhen Bentley took office in January 2011.

So the governor needs a big win such as Boeing to add some credence to his jobcreation promise as he begins his campaign for re-election.

But Boeing remains a long shot. Alabama is not only competing with a host ofother states, but it remains possible that Boeing will decide to keep itsproduction line for the new 777X in Washington state.

It appeared that Washington had the production line locked up until a fewmonths ago, when union workers there rejected a request from Boeing forconcessions to their contracts. The hard feelings created by that rejection andthe union's harsh rhetoric caused Boeing to start looking around for anotherplace to build the new version of the successful 777 aircraft.

To say the competition is fierce would be putting it mildly. States whereBoeing already has production lines, such as California, South Carolina andAlabama, are being joined by other states in competing for the jobs that Boeingwould bring. Only Boeing knows just how many states are making a bid to landthis product line, but it is probably at least a dozen, according to newsreports.

Missouri, for instance, already has called a special session of the Legislatureto consider an incentive package worth $1.7 billion over the next two decades.So while the company obviously will consider factors other than just incentives-- location, work force, transportation, etc. --  landing Boeing won't becheap for Alabama.

It's also possible that Boeing is just using this competition as a way tohammer down opposition to concessions by unions in Washington state, and if theunions decide to meet the company half way, then it is possible the 777Xproduct line will remain there.

One industry analyst recently estimated the odds of the product line staying inWashington state at 89 percent, with Charleston, S.C., as a new location at 10percent, and the remaining states having a combined 1 percent chance ofattracting the 777X line. But the analyst said those odds were based on thehard factors involved, such as location, cost of building a new plant, laborcosts, etc., and did not take into account the bitterness that appears to existbetween Boeing executives and union leaders in Washington state.

Despite the odds, Bentley is correct to make Boeing a priority. But even ifAlabama succeeds in attracting the aircraft company to the state, the jobs itbrings would only put a dent in his goal of 250,000 new jobs.

"My goal as governor is to stimulate the creation of 250,000 new jobs inAlabama," he said in a campaign position paper. ("PuttingAlabamians Back to Work", December 2009.) He made the promise againduring his inaugural address.

Frankly, Bentley's goal of 250,000 new jobs in Alabama probably was unrealisticwhen he made it. But with the number of employed Alabamians still stuck ataround 2  million people, about where it was when he took office threeyears ago, the chances of meeting that goal in the final year of his term seemsout of reach.

According to current data on the Alabama Department of Labor's website,Alabama's seasonally adjusted employment in January 2011 -- the month Bentleytook office -- was  1,995,143.  In October, the latest month forwhich numbers are available, the seasonally adjusted employment number was1,992,986. That October number is probably skewed by the government shutdown,but job growth in Alabama over the past three years still has been anemic.(Keep in mind that Alabama needs almost a half a percentage point increase in jobs each year just to keep up with population growth.)

Governors probably get too much credit when the economy is booming and jobgrowth is healthy, and they probably get too much blame when the numbers aredown. But Bentley chose to make jobs the watchword of his administration, so itis proper for Alabamians to use the goal he set forth as one of the primarymeasures of the success of his administration.

Alabama children lose a true champion

For 17years, Linda Tilly has been one of the most outspoken and articulate championsfor children in Alabama. She is officially retiring this month as executivedirector of Voices for Alabama's Children.

Her leadership helped to make Voices a force for improving conditions forchildren in this state. During her tenure, Voices played major roles in pushingfor health insurance coverage for children, in creating child death reviewteams, and in strengthening child passenger and teen driver safety laws.

She also has been a strong advocate for high quality pre-kindergarten programsin Alabama.

 As a newspaper editorial page editor and as a WSFA columnist, I treasured Lindaas a trusted source on children's issues -- always knowledgeable and willing togo on the record, even if her comments might make the powers that be uncomfortable.

Linda can retire knowing that she made a huge and positive difference in thelives of countless Alabama children.  We wish her good luck and Godspeed.

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Ken Hare was a longtime Alabamanewspaper editorial writer and editorial page editor who now writes a regularcolumn for WSFA's web site. Email him at khare@wsfa.com.

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