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MORE MCDONNELL DOUGLAS IN UTAH?

Salt Lake City has made the "final four" list of proposed assembly plant sites for McDonnell Douglas Corp.'s new MD-12X jumbo passenger jet. While that is good news, it is too early to really celebrate.

The challenge now is to make sure the city is the only name on the list in August when McDonnell Douglas is expected to announce the assembly plant site.To say Utah economic development officials are excited about making the list would be an understatement. But Utahns in general should be just as excited and supportive.

After all, the proposed assembly plant represents 1,500 well-paying jobs to begin with, and in addition, brings with it the very real potential for perhaps several thousand more jobs over time.

McDonnell Douglas has proven itself a good neighbor with its existing plant at the Salt Lake International Center where some 600 people already are employed. And, it is expected that another 400 to 500 will join that plant's work force over the next five years.

Convincing McDonnell Douglas that Salt Lake is the right place for expansion will require solid community support. The competition is formidable. Kansas City, Mo.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Shreveport, La. - the other cities on the list - are also well-known to the company.

Certainly McDonnell Douglas' current presence in Utah will help in the negotiations. The company already has first-hand experience with Utah's reputation for hard working, loyal and productive employees.

That experience undoubtedly had much to do with Salt Lake City's making the final four.

And, the Legislature's foresight earlier this year in creating a $10 million loan fund to provide economic development incentives and credits to McDonnell Douglas and others could also play a pivotal role.

McDonnell Douglas has been good for Utah, and the state and its workers apparently have been good for the company. Hopefully, that mutually beneficial relationship will take on even larger dimensions.