Southeast Alabama’s aerospace industry is taking flight with growth across the spectrum of companies. Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin will invest $34 million to expand its Pike County operation's Long Range Strike Systems cruise missile production annex. The planned 62,000-square-foot annex will expand the existing 92,000-square-foot manufacturing facility where the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile is produced. The facility also produced test missiles for the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile development program. Construction is slated for completion by the first quarter of 2015.
Lockheed Martin’s partnership with local, county and state economic development groups made the expansion possible. “In some cases, incentives and tax abatements have tipped the balance in our decision to bring manufacturing jobs to Troy rather than a facility in another state,” says Dave Anderson, site director of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control’s Pike County Operations facility. Anderson says the cruise missile facility expansion will bring additional high-tech manufacturing jobs to Pike County in particular.
“The expansion is expected to increase employment by approximately 10 percent over the next few years,” Anderson adds.
In Opp, aerospace veteran Ernie DePrinzio is co-locating his small Georgia manufacturing company with Alabama Aerospace Manufacturing, which he acquired last year. He plans to increase employment at the site from 12 workers to 50 by the end of 2014. He’s also looking to diversify his customer base based on his skilled workers’ abilities with tight tolerances and quality required for aerospace manufacturing. “You have to stay diversified," DePrinzio says. "In addition to aerospace, we’re looking at other defense-related work and even things like wind energy."