Boeing plans to move 1,000 positions from its Kent site to Tukwila over the next four years.
The company announced on Tuesday that it is taking steps at sites nationwide to operate its Defense, Space & Security business more efficiently through facilities consolidations and work movements.
”These actions are designed to further streamline operations, improve productivity, enhance existing resource usage and better focus our resources around our customers’ needs,” said Boeing spokesman Ken Smith in an email on Wednesday.
The first moves out of Kent will start in 2017 and conclude by the end of 2020, Smith said.
By the end of 2020 Boeing will reduce facilities space nationwide by approximately 4.5 million square feet. Along with that, many Southern California positions in Huntington Beach will move to El Segundo, Long Beach and Seal Beach, with others moving to St. Louis and Huntsville, Ala. With the moves, Los Angeles County gains about 1,600 positions, with St. Louis gaining 500 and Huntsville about 400. Boeing will close its El Paso, Texas, and Newington, Va., sites.
As far as Kent, the trend by Boeing to move jobs out of the city continues.
In 2014, Boeing announced that about 2,000 jobs in its defense division would go to other cities, mainly St. Louis and Oklahoma City. Most of those 2,000 employees were at facilities in Kent and Seattle.
Boeing sold off 70 acres at the Kent Space Center along South 212th Street property in 2013 to the IDS Real Estate Group and Clarion Partners. Amazon.com, Inc., built a nearly 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center on the property, which also includes the Stryker Business Center at Pacific Gateway. Crews demolished several former Boeing buildings to make room for the new project.
Boeing could be selling off more surplus property in Kent with the latest decision to transfer employees.
“Boeing’s Shared Services Group will manage the disposition of the buildings when they are vacated and declared surplus,” Smith said. “The company will work closely with the city of Kent to redevelop the property in a manner that maximizes its economic benefit, both for Boeing and the community.”
Ben Wolters, city of Kent economic and community development director, said the city has a development agreement with Boeing that could kick in if the company wants to sell off more surplus property. Boeing opened the Space Center in 1964. The company has employed more than 5,000 at the site.
“Disappointing, but not surprising,” Wolters said in an email. “This is the latest move of employees from Kent to other Boeing facilities. With this latest announcement we will be taking a fresh look at the agreement to see if it can still do the job of ensuring that if and when Boeing decides to surplus a portion or all of the remaining Space Center, it can attract the type of job creating development the city would like to see in the Kent Industrial Valley.”
Wolters estimated Boeing has anywhere from 500 to 1,500 employees remaining at the Space Center after the latest transfers. Wolters said that low number increases the chances of the company surplussing more property.
Boeing does not disclose how many it employs at each of its sites, Smith said.
”The loss of these typically higher wage jobs will have an impact on surrounding service businesses like restaurants and hotels, until new development can happen on the site that brings in new businesses and employees,” Wolters said.