Week of July 29, 2002
Blockbuster Deal of the Week
from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database
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Raytheon Aircraft Lands in Little Rock, 350 New Jobs AboardBy JACK LYNE,
Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Raytheon Aircraft has landed, again, in Little Rock, this time with 350 well-paying jobs aboard. The company's Hawker Horizon figuratively delivered the employment load. Raytheon's 350 new workers in Little Rock will complete final paint and interior work on the Hawker Horizon, Raytheon's new flagship business jet.
It wasn't Raytheon Aircraft's first location-related landing in Little Rock. The Wichita, Kansas-based airplane manufacturer already had a significant presence in Arkansas' capital city - a 550-employee operation near Little Rock National Airport. That existing operation proved critical: Demonstrated work skills drove the expansion decision, according to Jim Schuster, Raytheon Aircraft chairman and chief executive officer.
"Our work force in Little Rock is highly experienced in completion work on our current flagship aircraft, the Hawker 800 XP," Schuster said in announcing the project at Raytheon's Little Rock operation. "In making this decision, we took into account that experience, as well as the outstanding level of craftsmanship at our Little Rock facility. Your craftsmanship and your expertise are quickly being recognized among the best in the industry."
"This is your deal, this is your day," Gov. Mike Huckabee told Raytheon workers at the expansion's unveiling. "Raytheon is a world leader in the aerospace industry and has been a great corporate citizen. A company of this caliber doesn't make decisions without a great deal of research, deliberation and careful review of what makes the most sense for its operations."
The Arkansas cutbacks were a microcosm of the bigger business picture for Raytheon. The company in late 2002 laid off 1,700 workers, some 13 percent of its total work force. Raytheon Aircraft's first-quarter 2002 sales of $494 million marked a 22 percent decline from first-quarter 2001.
The company, however, has a current backlog of orders totaling some $5 billion, and its fortunes are on the rise, said Raytheon Aircraft's head man.
"I have to tell you, this is, I guess, the most exciting day that I've had since I joined the aircraft industry," Schuster said at the expansion announcement ceremony. "There's a lot of good things happening in the aircraft business." One of them, he added, is the new Hawker Horizon, which, Schuster asserted, will propel the company "to another plateau in the industry."
The Hawker Horizon will join the Hawker 800 XP Horizon at Raytheon's Little Rock operation. As with the Hawker 800 XP, the Hawker Horizon will be built in Wichita, and then flown, unpainted, to Arkansas for finishing touches. The Hawker Horizon will join the Hawker 800 XP as the only Raytheon aircraft not totally assembled and completed in Wichita.
Raytheon will make 36 Hawker Horizons a year, company officials said. Many will be sold to NetJets. The Woodbridge, N.J.-based company sells partial ownership of corporate jets - a strategy that's become increasingly popular in the post-9/11 environment for business travel. NetJets' "fractional ownership" business is currently rising at a 30-percent-a-year clip, the company reports
$19 an Hour for New Positions;
Raytheon's added Little Rock workload will also mean more work for local vendors, the company said. Raytheon already spends a reported $18 million a year with Arkansas vendors.
The expansion also means more spending for Arkansas. The state offered an as-yet-undetermined amount of incentives in successfully convincing Raytheon to pick Little Rock over several other competing cities. (The competing cities weren't named at the project announcement.)
"I appreciate that you work for a company that drives a very hard bargain," Huckabee told Raytheon's Little Rock employees.
Raytheon's incentives will include tax breaks, as well as rebates on new employees' salaries and building-materials expenditures, said Jim Pickens, director of the Arkansas Dept. of Economic Development. State incentives also include training Raytheon's new employees and developing new infrastructure around the company's site, he added.
State officials declined to estimate the project's total incentives. Specifics on some subsidies are still being worked out, they said. Other incentives, they added, won't have firm dollar values established until Raytheon completes its expansion.
For more on Southwest states like Virginia, see the regional review in the September Site Selection.
©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.