Boeing Co., a leading defense contractor and one of the world’s two dominant aircraft manufacturers, is expected to relocate its headquarters from Chicago to the Washington, D.C. area, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The decision could be announced no later than Thursday, according to one person. Both spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly before Boeing’s announcement.
Boeing did not comment immediately.
The decision was announced for the first time from The Wall Street Journal.
The move to Arlington, Virginia, will put Boeing executives close to employees of their key client, the Pentagon, and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger aircraft.
Boeing has its roots in the Seattle area and has assembly plants in Washington and South Carolina. The company moved its headquarters to Chicago in 2001 following an unusual public search that also included Dallas and Denver.
Boeing had 142,000 employees at the end of 2021, including 12% based outside the United States, according to regulatory documentation. The documentation does not say how much they work in Chicago.
“They will not be repulsed because their workforce and industry presence in Chicago are minimal,” said Richard Abulafia, an analyst with AeroDynamic Advisory. “Since DC is home to their biggest single customer, it makes some sense, but it’s a much less impressive move than returning to Seattle.”
The move will mark a victory for Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who campaigned last year in part because of his promise to provide new jobs in the state.
Youngkin, who is retiring in 2020 as co-CEO of private investment giant Carlyle Group, has been personally involved in relocation discussions and had a previous business relationship with Boeing CEO David Calhoun, according to one person familiar with the matter.
Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslav said he had not been notified of the move, but that it would be a “hell of a catch” for Virginia.
“We are lucky to receive them,” he said.
Susanne Clark, a spokeswoman for the state economic development agency, said that due to “competition and protection of confidential company information”, the agency could not comment on current or potential economic development prospects.
Kelly Rindfuss, Arlington’s director of communications for economic development, also declined to comment.
The news comes a few years after Amazon chose Arlington as its website second headquarters.