Missile work funds state economy

Boeing Co. project supports more than 700 direct, indirect jobs

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2008

FAIRBANKS - The Boeing Co.'s work on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense missile program is helping fuel the state's economy.

A University of Alaska Fairbanks study commissioned by Boeing finds that the work added more than $246 million to Alaska's economy in 2007. It also supported more than 700 direct and indirect jobs.

Boeing is a major contractor for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's GMD program, the nation's defense against long-range ballistic missiles.

President George Bush requested $9.3 billion for GMD for 2009, a figure Congress cut to $9 billion. The funding is spread among 11 programs, one of which is the ground-based project at Fort Greely. Fort Greely is about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks and houses 22 of the launch-ready interceptors in underground silos.

Boeing commissioned the study to quantify the monetary contributions its work makes in communities, said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. Along with Fort Greely, Boeing's GMD work takes place in Adak, Kodiak and Shemya.

According to the study, spending in 2007 totaled about $246 million in Alaska. That is a level that should be met in 2008 and 2009. Funding for the GMD program is typically $8 billion to $10 billion a year nationally.

The UAF study, led by economics professor Hans Geier, found that the average Boeing GMD worker in 2007 earned about 1.7 times the average wage in Alaska.

Other economic impacts in Alaska in 2007 include $52 million in payroll, $72 million in Alaska household earnings and $9.6 million in state and local government tax revenue.

Geier also noted that many of the Boeing benefits are in rural areas.

Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick Lehner said future support and funding under a new White House administration is in the hands of the Department of Defense.

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