The mid-April decision by one prominent union to drop plans to organize 2,400 eligible workers at Boeing’s North Charleston plant could be the best advertisement for attracting additional aerospace business to the State of South Carolina.

Becky Ford, Director, Business Development Programs for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) recalled hosting two aerospace companies at the time the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) withdrew its initial plans to hold a union election the Boeing plant.

“Those companies are supportive of the idea that we remain a Right to Work state,” said Ford. “They see it as an advantage when they are looking at a business case for a facility in the Southeast.”

Mike Graney, VP, global business development for CRDA took a different tack on the issue. As CRDA screens potential aerospace and other companies to come to Charleston, “they are simultaneously screening us,” said Graney.

Businesses want to know the labor situation in a state before they ever consider setting up operations there. “As long we have the distinction of having limited unionization, it gives an advantage in trying to recruit companies to the state,” said Graney. “It gets us into the game.”

Citing a “toxic environment and gross violations of workers’ lawful organizing rights,” IAMAW withdrew its petition with the National Labor Relations Board for an April 22 election at the Boeing Company’s North Charleston 787 Dreamliner plant. The soonest a vote could be rescheduled would be six months from the initial date. While a major blow to union organizing in the U.S. Southeast, the news was well received by business interests in the region.

Boeing Charleston, which employs over 8,000 workers, continues to grow to meet demand. In February 2015 the company unveiled its new Propulsion Engineering and Assembly facility in North Charleston. It is responsible for design and assembly of the 737 MAX engine nacelle inlet, design of the 737 MAX engine nacelle fan cowl and design and engineering integration for the 777X nacelle.

In March 2015, Boeing delivered its first South Carolina built 787-9 to United Airlines. Less than three years ago, the facility delivered the first 787-8 made in North Charleston. In July 2014, the company announced it would build the 787-10 Dreamliner in North Charleston, and at the end of last year opened its 100,000-square-foot new Research and Technology Center there. The facility is focusing on advanced manufacturing technology and composite fuselage manufacturing.

Boeing expects to add 2,000 additional jobs and invest $1.1 billion over the next eight years. The total estimated impact of the company’s local employment is more than $11 billion in economic activity in the metro area, according to the CRDA.

The so-called “Boeing Effect” is helping to attract additional aerospace and IT businesses to the region and helping elevate the region to the U.S.’s top industry hotspots for R&D and STEM-worker intensive industries, according to the Brookings Institution. More than $3.8 billion has been pumped into the region’s economy.

Before Boeing’ influence was felt, South Carolina ranked first in the nation for aerospace job growth between 2007-2012, during which time the state saw 613% job growth.

At present, there are approximately 17,114 employees at 466 firms in the Charleston’s aerospace cluster.

Senior Aerospace AMT, a Washington State-based aerospace supplier opened a facility in March to provide parts quicker for the 787 Dreamliner.

The high-tech sector is adding 600 new jobs to North Charleston, according to the CRDA.  Having an increased presence of IT businesses is part of Boeing’s long-term strategy for its North Charleston plant.

The State continues to do its part to attract new aerospace business. Lawmakers this spring passed a $120 million bond bill, which will help fund infrastructure work related to Boeing’s second phase of expansion.

Academia is helping increase the aerospace footprint in the tri-county area as well. Trident Technical College’s Aeronautic Studies Division and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Charleston branch offer science and engineering courses for aerospace aspirants.

ReadySC, a division of the SC Technical College system, which is supported by the State, has instructed more than 2,300 Boeing employees in its customized eight-week training courses. In addition, more than 2,000 trainees have completed Specialty Classes. The ReadySC Boeing curriculum comprises more than 170 courses taught by more than 50 Boeing qualified instructors, the second largest group of non-Boeing instructors worldwide.

South Carolina plans to send a 12-person delegation to the Paris Air Show.