COLUMBIA — The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly agreed Wednesday to borrow $120 million and give it to Boeing to help the aircraft maker expand its manufacturing facility in North Charleston and hire up to 2,000 additional people.
The vote was 115-2, with only state Reps. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, and Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg, voting “no.”
The aerospace giant will use the money to buy 320 acres and prepare the land for construction. Adding 2,000 jobs would bring Boeing’s total employment to 10,000 in North Charleston, where workers build aft-bodies of 787s and paint the aircraft. Boeing officials say they already have spent $1 billion in North Charleston and plan to spend $1 billion more with this expansion.
The state Senate introduced and passed the incentive bill last week, an extraordinary feat of speed for that notoriously slow-moving body.
Critics say lawmakers are moving too fast to give that much to a private company. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said lawmakers are not facing a deadline. But he said they were trying to get the bill passed before the state’s PGA golf tournament this weekend, the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing.
The Heritage — South Carolina’s only recurring PGA tour event — was in danger of folding two years ago until major sponsors, including Boeing, rescued it.
“We know we’re going to pass it, and it would be nice to have it done before Boeing comes to host the Heritage, so, when all of their high brass is in town, they will come here knowing we have taken care of this legislation,” Harrell said.