You’ll notice that our list of Recovery Act funded projects in the region doesn’t include Boeing’s recent $8 million for smart grid. Simple reason: the funds technically go to Boeing operations in St. Louis and California, since it’s Boeing’s defense side that is make the shift to energy technology.
Of course, the new Boeing focus on smart grid isn’t news…it comes from an interview more than a month ago with company defense chief Dennis Muilenburg who said that “We know that we have to reposition our business, and that repositioning is something we are very aggressively doing…One idea is to take some of our defense technology and use it to help solve problems in the energy sector.”
The reason it matters to our region, though, is that there’s the potential for some exciting collaboration. As I mentioned last week, we’re heading toward becoming a true center for smart grid technology development and implementation. Add that to the fact that – in the face of lost commercial airplane manufacturing jobs – our region is looking to increase its aerospace defense presence (starting with the Air Force Tanker). And the fact that the new head of Boeing Commercial is intimately familiar with the defense side.
I’m just saying, we could find some mutually beneficial opportunities.