The Boeing Research & Technology-Missouri center is the last of 11 Boeing research centers around the world to open. It joins centers in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Russia and the U.S.
Boeing R&T facilities in Huntsville, Ala., Huntington Beach, Calif., and Seattle round out the five U.S. sites.
The diversification of Boeing's R&D operations outside of the Seattle area has concerned some Boeing employees in Washington state. A recent story in the Puget Sound Business Journal about the new S.C. facility captures some of this:
For the Puget Sound area, the new center has foreboding implications. While the region has long been known for its engineering and manufacturing talent pool, an organized tech center in South Carolina could pull talent away and shift the center of aerospace innovation toward the South. The move reflects Boeing’s stated intention to spread its engineering skills around the U.S.
The newest operations in St. Louis will serve as Boeing's Midwestern research hub. The labs and office spaces are spread out throughout St. Louis, St. Charles and other Boeing locations in Missouri, accounting for about 197,000 square feet, Boeing spokeswoman Jennifer Hawton said.
More than 700 engineers and technicians will develop technologies there for systems, digital aviation and support technology, rate-independent production and next-generation materials.
The North Charleston facility will focus on research and development of advanced manufacturing technologies, particularly for composite fuselage and propulsion systems production. The local employee count was not disclosed; Boeing's original announcement in 2013 said about 400 employees were expected to work there.
Boeing workers in Missouri will collaborate with research partners and academic institutions such as Missouri University of Science and Technology and St. Louis University. Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security program is also headquartered in St. Louis.
“Missouri is a great place for us to be — the proximity to local talent and research partners gives us access to some of the best minds in the industry,” Nancy Pendleton, leader of the Missouri research center, said in a news release.