NORTH CHARLESTON (WACH, WCIV, AP) -- The new Boeing 787 production plant in North Charleston is now officially open.
Gov. Nikki Haley and a row of lawmakers and Boeing officials cut the ribbon signifying the opening of the new $750 million assembly plant Friday morning. The opening marks the largest single industrial investment in South Carolina history.
Haley called Boeing a great American company and said its workers make all South Carolinians proud. Boeing began construction of the facility early last year after state lawmakers promised the company millions of dollars in tax incentives in exchange for locating the plant in the Palmetto State.
Haley's praise for Boeing comes less than a week after she declined to sign a bill granting tax incentives to internet retailer Amazon for a distribution facility in Lexington County that promises to create at least 2,000 new jobs. That law went into effect without the governor's signature Tuesday night. Haley said she wouldn't sign the legislation because she opposes targeted tax breaks and instead favors broad-based tax reform.
Haley reiterated her opposition to targeted incentives Friday, labeling the Amazon package a "terrible thing" and "bad policy." However, Haley said there are differences between the Amazon deal and incentives offered to Boeing.
"When you look at Amazon you basically gave them sales tax relief when not giving it to mom-and-pop bookstores," said Haley. "Boeing was different; starting an aeronautic hub by getting Boeing got multiple companies (to relocate to South Carolina)."
Boeing's opening ceremony Friday comes amid national controversy as the National Labor Relations Board seeks to block Boeing from opening its new facility, arguing in court that Boeing's choice of South Carolina for the new assembly plant amounts to retaliation for prior strikes by union employees at its existing facilities in Seattle. A congressional hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 17.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says he's not worried.
"We just don't see this as any issue," Summey said. "We think it's a non-issue. We're working with Boeing anyway we can to move forward."Related Stories... 16 prosecutors: NLRB action against federal law Congress to hold Boeing hearing in SC Rep. Scott asks Obama to call off NLRB, workers want in on lawsuit
"We're just having positive thoughts of getting the jobs in, moving forward and deal with those things as they come along. But, we think at the end of the day, it will go away."
Summey says the city is ready to welcome the new business.
"We've come a long way from the point of announcing to construction and now to actually seeing people in the building and work progressing," Summey said.
"I think that's important. Now we start hiring the folks that will be permanent to the facility. We've had all of the hires for construction, but now these are the folks that will actually be working for Boeing.
Watch a clip of Gov. Haley speaking at Boeing ribbon cutting below courtesy of the governor's office.
(The Associated Press and WCIV contributed to this report.)
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