Plan A, or Plan B?
We should evaluate two different business plans for Paine Field. Lets call them Plan A (Aerospace) and Plan B (Bombshell). Plan A envisions an aerospace center of excellence at Paine Field while continuing the countys 30-year-old promise to strongly discourage scheduled passenger air service.
Aerospace manufacturing brings in high-wage, stable jobs that greatly help the community. Imagine Rolls Royce (engine manufacturer) and other new aerospace companies joining Boeing, the Goodrich Corporation and Korry Electronics to call Paine Field their home.
The county could promote a technical university, provide tax incentives, and make other efforts to bring aerospace manufacturers here. These efforts could also convince Boeing to stay here for the long term, an issue the county should address after the recent labor disruptions. In addition, the county should promote general aviation and all the services, jobs and income that this brings to the area already.
County Council member Brian Sullivan and our group, Save Our Communities, endorse this plan.
Now consider Plan B, the bombshell. Scheduled air service at Paine Field would create jobs such as fuel service, rental car operations, and other low-wage jobs attendant with airport operations.
Proponents say scheduled air service would bring in high wage companies into the area. If this were true, then one would expect to see Microsoft, Amazon and other locally headquartered companies near Sea-Tac.
However, high tech companies dont locate next to major airportsthey just need access to the area. As a licensing officer at the UWs technology transfer office for 10 years, I saw or worked with UW licensees such as Optiva (manufacturer of the Sonicare toothbrush), MicroVision (virtual heads up display) and Icos (biotech).
High-tech companies locate near other high tech companies or near centers of excellence. You will find them near UW, in Redmond, in the Bothell high-tech corridor and other similar clusters, but not near Sea-tac.
Plan B proponents require as much wealth destruction as wealth creation. Their plan introduces commercial planes into our neighborhoods, flying overhead, without limitation, day or night.
This devalues property, pollutes the air, harms the learning environment for our children and lowers our quality of life. When that happens, people leave. Tax collections decrease as crime and other demands on city services increases.
The downward spiral hits communities like, well, a bombshell.
We have a great opportunity to develop Paine Field into a national treasure centered on our top aerospace companies.
Alternatively, we can change the role of Paine Field into a second rate passenger airport that destroys wealth in our communities more efficiently than the low end jobs it might create. Which of these two business plans for Paine Field does the community really desire?
Vice president, SOC