Port wonders how much warming up it should do for the Boeing 737 race

By Rachel Pritchett

Port of Bremerton leaders continue to watch The Boeing Co. very closely for word whether it will build a new 737 airplane. A decision is expected by the end of the year.
If the answer is yes, proposals to Boeing from cities interested in locating an assembly plant in their locale might be submitted in the first or second quarter of next year, port CEO Cary Bozeman said Tuesday at a commissioners’ meeting.
Commissioners continue to show early interest in having the line here. Land is abundant, and close to an airport and a rail line that connects to the national grid, they said. On the down side is getting to the port via narrow, twisted and congested highways.
Bozeman and commissioners discussed whether there was anything the port could be doing now that it isn’t doing to be prepared for what promises to be crowded competition in a high-stakes race.
Commissioner Bill Mahan reminded leaders that it pays to be more ready than the other guy.
As proof, he said that Kitsap County governmental entities all worked together to have information at hand during the U.S. Department of Defense’ last round of base closings. Being ready with information “put us heads and shoulders above many other communities,” he said. “What we did in the county was far superior to what any other community did in the United States.”
No local bases were closed, and in fact some of their missions were increased, he said.
Now other communities use the Kitsap model, he said.
Mahan said the port should start gathering information for Boeing now, while time is on its side. He spoke mostly of assessing port infrastructure.
No decision was made, but Bozeman and incoming CEO Tim Thomson continue to take part in monthly phone calls with a group of cities also interested in having a Boeing line with them. The group was called together by Gov. Chris Gregoire. They also are in touch with U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks’ office.
“It’s high on the radar screen,” Bozeman said.
“We’re taking about 5,000 jobs here.”

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