Employees: New Boeing plant in Gresham a big vote of confidence

Employees: New Boeing plant in Gresham a big vote of confidence »Play Video
Here's a look inside the new Boeing plant in Gresham. Workers will dip parts of planes into large vats of chemicals to prevent corrosion.

GRESHAM, Ore. – Boeing invested big in Oregon Friday by opening a new chemical processing plant in this Portland suburb, bringing job security to hundreds of workers in the area.

Employees see the move as a vote of confidence from Boeing. Over two years of construction the company now has a new 64,000 square foot building with millions of dollars of brand new equipment. On top of all that there was another renovation on the other end of campus.

One employee said, "This means we'll be here for a long time."

Behind Friday's ribbon-cutting that included champagne, is a massive chemical processing plant designed to treat parts for the company's newest addition: the big 787 Dreamliner that touched down in Portland last month.

Automated, high-tech machines will dip parts of the plane into baths to prevent them from corroding. It is all something veteran employees here thought they'd never see.

"We have a current facility that's been here since the early 1960s," said David Hand. "When they come over here, and they look at this, they're excited. They see everything clean, modern – it's huge. So they're very excited to start work here."

Down the block is another addition of 30,000 square feet. Now, the company has the room to fill the demand to manufacture parts for Boeing's 737.

"We're in historically one of the biggest growth periods in commercial airplanes' history," said employee Don Hendrickson.

It's all a good sign for employees like Hendrickson, who's worked at the Boeing site in Gresham for more than 20 years and has seen it grow from a one-building facility to a place four times that size.

"These are long-term commitments," he said.

Boeing projects the demand for commercial airplane production will double with the size of the workforce growing every year. Boeing says it will likely have to fill about 100 to 150 positions every year to just maintain that staffing level. Boeing is forecasting demand for commercial airline production to double during the next 20 years.

The Gresham plant is the 12th of Boeing's fabrication unit. Six of the nine American plants are located in the Pacific Northwest. Two are in Australia and one is in Canada.