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BAE Systems to expand in Huntsville, creating new jobs

Big Spring Park.

Monday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that global defense contractor BAE Systems will launch a major expansion that will create a substantial number of jobs and add new capabilities at its operations in Huntsville.

The announcement coincided with the start of the Farnborough International Airshow near London. BAE Systems revealed the $45.5 million project to expansion of its operations in Alabama. The company says that the expansion will create hundreds of new jobs.

“BAE Systems’ decision to carry out this significant expansion project in Huntsville is a powerful testament to the expertise that makes Alabama’s ‘Rocket City’ an aerospace hub,” said Governor Ivey. “It’s great to see a world-class company like BAE Systems expand its presence — and create good jobs — in Alabama, where aerospace is continuing to take off.”

Gov. Ivey is attending the air show with a state business development team.

BAE Systems said that their multi-phase growth plan includes the immediate expansion of its offices at Discovery Drive in Huntsville and the development of a state-of-the-art manufacturing and office space facility in the Cummings Research Park.

Work at the facility will consist of new programs and existing business, including the design, development, and manufacturing of precision munitions and aircraft survivability technology. The increased capacity will enable the company to execute on its commitments to customers while positioning it to address surging demand for key products.

“Our expansion in Huntsville provides us a great opportunity to establish a closer working relationship with our critical customers in the U.S. Army and the Redstone Arsenal community,” said Paul Markwardt, vice president and general manager of Survivability, Targeting, and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “Huntsville is a good location to attract the key talent needed to develop and deliver important new capabilities to our customers.”

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“BAE is one of the largest and best defense contractors in the world and is a welcome and valuable addition to the Tennessee Valley that further cements our community’s critical security role on behalf of America,” Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said. “I thank BAE for choosing the Tennessee Valley during these booming times for space and national defense industries, and I look forward to working together with BAE in the future to help ensure America’s national security and the Tennessee Valley’s economic prosperity.”

BAE Systems is working with Huntsville developer Samples Properties, Fuqua & Partners Architects, and Pearce Construction to build its new 83,000-square-foot facility, which will include engineering development space, manufacturing space, and Department of Defense lab space. A 20-acre site for the building will provide expansion room for phased growth in the future. Construction of the new building will begin this year and is expected to be complete in 2019.

“@BaeSystemsplc’s decision to invest $45.5 million to expand operations in Huntsville further highlights Alabama’s excellent workforce,” Senator Richard Shelby said. “This region remains the epicenter for defense, aerospace, and security, and I am proud that the third-largest defense contractor in the world is capitalizing on the potential opportunities that North Alabama has to offer. I look forward to the economic growth and development that will stem from this significant investment.”

“Huntsville’s expansive capabilities in the aerospace industry make it the ideal location for BAE Systems’ growth plans in the United States,” said Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield. “There’s simply no better place to conduct the critical defense work that provides vital protection to our nation and our allies in unsettled times.”

The President and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce Chip Cherry, said that the project announcements like the one by BAE Systems are years in the making.

“We met with BAE senior leadership at the Farnborough Airshow in 2016 to discuss the advantages of being in Huntsville/Madison County,” Cherry said. “We are at the airshow again this year meeting with more companies about establishing and expanding their presence in Huntsville.”

BAE Systems is a global defense, aerospace and security company employing around 83,100 people worldwide. The British firm is headquartered in London and offers wide-ranging products and services that cover air, land and naval military forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology, and support services. BAE has operations in 40 countries and in 30 American states.

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“Our vision remains consistent: to be the premier international defence, aerospace and security company,” BAE states on their website. :Our mission describes what drives us as an organisation. We provide innovative solutions and critical capabilities to give our customers an essential edge, helping to protect nations, prosperity and people around the world. To achieve our vision and mission, we have a clear, consistent strategy with five core strands: sustain and grow our core businesses; expand in adjacent and international markets; recruit, develop and inspire a diverse and talented workforce; and improve financial performance, to deliver and sustainably grow shareholder value.”

“Huntsville has once again proven itself to be the location of choice for companies looking to do cutting-edge R&D, engineering, and manufacturing all in one location,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R) said. “After our recent string of wins in advanced manufacturing, we made the strategic decision to renew our focus on Cummings Research Park and the knowledge-based jobs that have given Huntsville its positive reputation for innovation. BAE Systems is a company we have worked with for a number of years. They will develop new technologies to keep our soldiers and allies safe for decades to come. Huntsville is proud to play a key role in BAE Systems’ mission.”

As Governor, Kay Ivey has aggressively recruited jobs and employers. Unemployment has seen record lows and the work force is the highest that it has been since before the Great Recession. Ivey is running for her own term as Governor touting the impressive economic numbers which the state is experiencing.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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