Facebook Twitter

3 cities hoping to soar with Boeing

Chicago, Dallas, Denver competing for headquarters

SHARE 3 cities hoping to soar with Boeing

Chicago touts its cosmopolitan lifestyle and Lake Michigan. Dallas boasts of no state corporate or income tax and lots of political clout, and Denver its breathtaking mountain vistas and a highly educated work force.

And they all have plenty of Starbucks coffee.

It's a full-on bidding war for the Boeing Co., which after eight-plus decades is moving its headquarters out of Seattle. The winning suitor will get 500 front-office workers — a small blip in employment in cities so large — and there's been a hint of more jobs down the line.

But also at stake is the prestige of winning over the bosses at Boeing, the world's largest airplane maker.

"This is a very big opportunity for our state," said Jeff Moseley, executive director of the Texas Department of Economic Development.

Boeing chief Phil Condit announced plans last month to move the headquarters out of Seattle, where William Boeing founded the company in 1916, to save money and to be more central to its operations around the country.

In choosing their new home, executives plan to consider access to air and ground travel, business climate and other economic considerations and quality of life.

Officials in the three cities are scrambling to win over the manufacturer. All three have formed committees of business and government leaders to craft economic enticements to present to Boeing.

Dallas gathered some of the area's athletic heroes to shower Condit with gifts, including a cap from Dallas Stars hockey star Mike Modano and a letter from Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

"I moved to Dallas-Fort Worth to improve my future," wrote Rodriguez, who left the Seattle Mariners to sign a record $252 million contract with the Rangers. "So should you."

Not to be outdone, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Mayor Wellington Webb have enlisted the help of former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway and brewing magnate Pete Coors to woo Boeing. In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley has been leading his city's lobbying effort.

Boeing officials plan to visit Chicago April 18-19, Dallas April 24-25 and Denver May 1-2 to discuss the plans in detail. A relocation committee, which includes Condit and other executives, is expected to announce its decision later in May.

Incentives like tax breaks and fee rebates will likely be part of each city's proposal, but most believe they will be a second-tier consideration for Boeing.

"The incentives are not going to make or break the deal," said James Mejia of the Denver mayor's economic development office. "They're more symbolic."

Aerospace analysts and government and business officials in the three cities can only guess about which factors will prevail.

"Denver, in terms of lifestyle, would look to be a closer match to what they have in Seattle," said Cai Von Rumohr, a Boeing analyst with SG Cowen Securities Inc. in Boston. "Obviously they're not making (the move) for lifestyle reasons, otherwise they would stay in Seattle."

Incentives aside, each city has advantages to use as bait.

Is sunshine important to a company that sprouted in the rainy Northwest? Denver has 251 days of it per year, compared with 226 days in Dallas and 197 days in Chicago, according to a University of Utah study. Seattle has 156 sunny days a year.

And Starbucks?

Denver has two dozen of the java-jolt outlets, while Dallas has 31 and Chicago has 93. Seattle, where the coffee trendsetter is based, has 85.