Boeing

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said Friday it will move its 757 jet fuselage assembly operations in Renton, Wash. to Wichita, Kan., over the next two to three years.

The Wichita site already produces fuselage and other major body sections for the 737 jets.

The move will affect most of the plant's 500 workers, but Boeing said it will offer those employees other jobs in the company. "We'll make every effort to retain affected employees who are willing and able to be retrained to perform available work, or who are willing to work at other locations, work other shifts, and if necessary, accept a reclassification or downgrade," the company said in a statement.

The company also said it is initiating an efficiency program that will result in the reduction of factory space by about 3 million square feet by 2002. The reductions will occur mostly at the company's Auburn and Plant 2 locations in Puget Sound, Wash., and at its Wichita facility. The company also said the fuselage panel work being done in Wichita will be moved to an outside supplier.

Earlier this week, the company announced plans to

relocate its headquarters from Seattle. Boeing said it is looking at Denver, Chicago and the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and hopes to make a choice by early summer and open the facility in the fall.

Shares of Boeing gained $1.26, or 1.3%, to $53.26 in recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading.