Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California, which makes solid rocket motors at the Highland Industrial Park in East Camden, said Wednesday that it will expand its operations at its 1,200-acre facility there, adding 141 jobs over the next three years.
During an announcement made with Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the state Capitol, executives and state officials said more than $50 million will be invested in the expansion, including $236,900 in state and local incentives the company has qualified for.
The state incentives are:
Seven years of Create Rebate, an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs at the plant;
Tax Back, which provides sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the project;
And $1.3 million from the governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund.
The local incentives, offered by the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development, are $126,900 for job creation, $18,000 for recruitment and $2,000 for retention.
The average wage rate for the new jobs will be $55,000, the governor said.
"This expansion enables us to increase the volume of solid rocket motors we produce for tactical and missile defense systems used by America's warfighters," CEO and President Eileen Drake said. "It also provides Aerojet Rocketdyne with the capability to build large solid rocket motors in [East] Camden for our nation's strategic defense requirements."
She added that the new jobs will be full-time and across-the-board; the company will be hiring engineers, mechanics, office staff and more.
Aerojet Rocketdyne executives also said the expansion includes adding several buildings and about 100,000 SF of floor space. It already has about 1 million SF of floor space at the facility in East Camden.
The company has been in Arkansas since 1979. The Highland Industrial Park facility currently employs more than 800 workers.
Aerojet Rocketdyne employs 5,000 people nationwide with plants in Alabama, California, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. The headquarters of its parent company, Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., is in El Segundo, California.
In 2015, Aerojet Rocketdyne moved its Solid Rocket Motor Center of Excellence from Sacramento to East Camden, where the company produces more than 75,000 solid rocket motors per year. Executives said the expansion would likely increase production by a few thousand more motors because they will be made larger. Production could eventually be doubled, they said.
Moving the center followed the merger of Aerojet and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Los Angeles.
“When Aerojet bought Rocketdyne and we merged the two companies in 2013, we really looked for opportunities to really restructure the business so that we had like products and like facilities, and some of our factories were underutilized,” Drake said about the decision to relocate the center. “So it was really about affordability, factory rationalization and making sure that we give our customers the best products on time and at the best price.”
The three-year expansion would bring the East Camden operation's total employment to more than 900, the company said. The expansion comes three years after a previous expansion that added about 85 jobs.
At Wednesday's announcement, the governor said aerospace is a $2 billion industry in Arkansas and the supply chain it creates benefits many other businesses throughout the state. He also praised Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia for helping to provide the workforce companies like Aerojet Rocketdyne will need.