Preserving the Past, Focusing on the Future
Boeing, power, and aircraft production
"Aircraft production relied upon a large labor pool, lots of land, and even more aluminum. To make all the aluminum that is put onto an aircraft required lots of electricity - and that is where the Pacific Northwest excelled at the beginning of the war.
To get out of the depression the US Government spent massively - in the same manner that Germany borrowed and spent themselves out of depression (modern term: Reaganomics) and in the US massive public works in the form of power generation dams were one of the many ways used to get the economy going again.
Bonneville Dam, built roughly 40 miles upstream from Portland along the Columbia River, was the first dam built by the Corps of Engineers on the Columbia. To delivery and sell the power generated Bonneville Power Administration was created. This low cost (i.e.: cost recovery only) selling of electricity in turn allowed aluminum smelters to move to the NW to build factories - they use enormous amount of electricity to create the aluminum - that allowed them to make the new product and sell it at a price other companies could afford to pay for it. This allowed more people to be employed, generate more money in the economy, and with people employed money they earned and spent by the borrowing of money to build a dam in the long term would lift the US out of the depression.
The Federal Government policy of selling of electricity at cost (instead of the normal 30% profit margin), the need for lots of aluminum, the need for lots of planes, allowed Boeing to expand and build new plants in Washington to meet the needs of WW II. See this paper on Bonneville Dam's contribution to the war effort (PDF)."