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Boeing Family Stewart Moves To Mt Pleasant

In busy North Charleston, South Carolina, the pieces of a huge and complex puzzle are beginning to mesh, as Boeing forges ahead in a herculean effort to construct a massive facility and assemble a workforce tasked with the job of delivering 787 Dreamliners by the first quarter of 2012.

Meanwhile, in nearby Mount Pleasant, a key member of the Boeing team that plans to have the company’s second 787 final assembly plant operational by July 2011 is settling in and contemplating the differences between the fast pace of the big city and the relatively slower way life progresses along the Carolina coast.

Like Boeing, Jeremy Stewart and his wife Artise chose the Charleston area. The aerospace giant opted to spend at least $750 million and bring approximately 3,800 jobs to the Lowcountry after also considering Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Everett, Wash., the Seattle suburb that has served as the longtime center of Boeing’s commercial manufacturing universe. The Stewarts had their choice of any city in the United States where Boeing has a presence. For a variety of reasons, the weather, the beach and family considerations among them, they elected to make their new home in the Charleston area.

The Stewarts were given the opportunity to choose any Boeing location after 31-year-old Jeremy completed the Leaders for Global Operations program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. Only 48 people from around the world participate in the two-year program, where, according to MIT, a “diverse mix of students and alumni, senior industry executives and faculty from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and School of Engineering create an exciting global operations learning environment.”

The Stewarts considered Seattle, where Jeremy was with Boeing for four years, and Philadelphia before deciding on the Charleston area, and they looked at a large number of homes in West Ashley and on James Island before purchasing a house in Mount Pleasant’s Hidden Lakes subdivision.

“Ultimately, our decision depended on what we could get for our money,” said Artise, who is veterinarian. “Mount Pleasant has good schools and everything is close by – the beach, restaurants and Charleston – and there’s lots of young people here. And when we tell our friends in Seattle and Boston what we paid for our house and what we pay in property taxes, they ask, “Are you kidding?’”

“Seattle is beautiful but hard to get used to,” she added. “Here, we can go to the beach, and we can participate in outdoor activities year-round.”

Despite the Lowcountry’s temperate climate and friendly residents, the transition from the big city of Boston to the big town of Mount Pleasant has been interesting for the Stewarts. For example, in Boston, they shared a car, using public transportation to get around much of the time. In South Carolina, traffic problems are minimal compared to the driving conditions in Boston. And farmers markets, ubiquitous in the Palmetto State, have caught their attention. The Stewarts are regulars at the Mount Pleasant market and also have paid a visit to the one held on Daniel Island.

They also have noticed a large difference in the way people feel about sports. In Boston, professional teams rule – the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics and the Bruins. In South Carolina, however, it all about college athletics, especially football and especially the University of South Carolina and Clemson University. The Stewarts don’t mind, because, as Artise said, “We like college better anyway.” However, as the orange University of Tennessee flag on their porch will attest, they don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the Gamecocks/Tigers rivalry.

Jeremy pointed out that the weather, the beach, friendly people and low real estate prices were not the only factors in their decision to move to the Charleston area. His family, in east Tennessee, is fairly close by, while her family isn’t all that far away either, in northern Alabama. However, the opportunity to help Boeing launch its 787 Final Assembly and Delivery Center in South Carolina was the deciding factor for Jeremy.

“I wanted to come here to be part of using the best of what Boeing has done in the past to help set up this facility,” said Jeremy, who earned his engineering degree at the University of Tennessee and the University of Cincinnati. “I wanted the opportunity of being part of something like this.”

Stewart’s official title is manufacturing engineering manager, 787 Final Assembly and Delivery, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He works with Boeing leadership to hire personnel, provide support for the company’s mechanics and in other strategies involved in making sure the 692,000-square foot final assembly factory and other facilities on the 240-acre campus are up and running on schedule. He likes to think of himself as a problem solver.

His other major responsibility at Boeing is to help train the team members the company hires to build airplanes in North Charleston. He’ll accomplish this important job by putting together mockups of 787s so employees can practice assembling them before they begin work on the real thing. In addition to the final assembly facility, Boeing employees eventually will spend their days in three other buildings, one of them currently under construction and another in the planning stages.

“There’s going to be four very large buildings with a lot of people working in them,” he commented.

Artise, a University of Tennessee alumni, was an associate at private veterinary practices in Seattle and Boston. Now she fills in for people who are on vacation at several clinics in the Charleston area. She also teaches at Trident Technical College.

When they are not working, Jeremy and Artise Stewart are enjoying their new way of life in the Lowcountry. They’ve already realized that networking is an important part of living in coastal South Carolina.

“When you need to have some work done on your house or your car or whatever, you usually can find the person you need through your friends and acquaintances,” Artise commented. “There’s a real sense of community here.”

» By Brian Sherman

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