Gov. Asa Hutchinson and officials with Lockheed Martin announced today at the Paris Air Show that the company will expand its operation in East Camden, investing $142 million and hiring 326 new employees over the next few years.
The expansion will accommodate a new product line and upgrades to current facilities. New construction will include two production buildings to support the manufacturing of long-range fires and PAC-3 missile defense capabilities.
"Lockheed Martin is a leading technology firm with facilities and clients around the world," Hutchinson said in a news release. "Lockheed's investment illustrates the fact that Arkansas continues to be a global player in the aero-defense industry."
The plant makes the company's High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and performs final assembly for Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Precision Fires products for U.S. and allied military services.
The expansion will support new construction and improve existing facilities for products like Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS), Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) and others, plus new machinery and equipment.
"This is going to be a significant step forward for us, and not only the U.S. government in its defense but also our international partners as well those who use a lot of these same systems in their defense of their countries," Frank St. John, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said during the Paris announcement.
The facility has been dedicated to High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) production only, according to a statement from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
Justin Routon, director of Lockheed's East Camden site, said in a conference call with reporters that the facility has a long record of manufacturing for government contracts and on-time deliveries.
"That's the reason we continue to invest in our Camden operations and consider them as a potential location for manufacturing whenever Lockheed Martin has a new product here at missions and fire control," he said.
Routon said the company will expand its Camden workforce from about 650 in January to around 976 by 2024. The facility expansion is expected to take two and a half years, he said. Construction will likely begin in the third quarter, he said.
The types of jobs the company will hire for are across the board, including engineers, production workers and workers in finance, logistics, health and safety, facilities and more. He declined to give a salary range, but said they will pay above the average wage for Arkansas, which is about $20 per hour.
Routon said the company is already recruting for the jobs, not only in South Arkansas' Golden Triangle area, but statewide.
The project qualifies for two AEDC incentives:
ArkPlus — a state income tax credit program that provides tax credits of 10% of the total investment in a new location or expansion project.
Create Rebate — annual cash payments based on a company's annual payroll for new, full-time, permanent employees. Companies must create a minimum of $2 million annually in new payroll within 24 months of the agreement's effective date to qualify.
AEDC Executive Mike Preston said in a statement emailed to Arkansas Business, "The aero-defense industry is the state’s largest export, totaling $1.8 billion in 2018. Our partners in the industry, including Lockheed Martin, continue to see success, and we appreciate their investment in Arkansas with high-paying jobs.
"It’s obviously a strong sector and we’ve made some big announcements in the last year, but there’s still room for growth. We will continue to focus on recruiting and expanding aerospace and defense, and being at the Paris Air Show is one important part of that strategy," he concluded.
James Lee Silliman, executive director of the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development, said his organization has qualified Lockheed for a $501,480 incentive package. Of that, $293,400 is tied to the promised jobs. The other $208,080 is for workforce training. The package will be provided over a six-year period.
OPED is also partnering with Southern Arkansas University Tech to provide training to new Lockheed hires. Lockheed might also receive a property tax reduction and abatement, worth $9.9 million, subject to approval by the Calhoun County Quorum Court and the Hampton School District.
The AEDC said the private aerospace and defense industry employs about 10,000 Arkansans and was the state's largest export in 2018, totaling $1.8 billion.
"I can't say enough good things about the contributions Lockheed Martin makes in aerospace and missile defense around the world along with our local economy," Calhoun County Judge Floyd Nutt said. "We're proud to continue our longstanding relationship."
Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland, is led by CEO Marillyn Hewson. Its East Camden workforce makes mobile missile-launch vehicles and multiple-launch rocket systems and the TACMS missile, as well as precision-fire ordnance. East Camden's site manager is Justin Routon. Lockheed had $51 billion in 2017 revenue and more than $2 billion in profits.
The governor and St. John announced the expansion from Paris via Facebook: