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Friday, May 7, 2010

Lockheed to expand, create 100 new jobs

Defense contractor plans to spend $2.4M on renovations, equipment

Orlando Business Journal - by Melanie Stawicki Azam Staff Writer

 
Lockheed Martin Corp. wants to spend $2.4 million to renovate and equip a 64,000-square-foot industrial building in the city of West Melbourne and create 100 jobs.

The new assembly, testing and field operations engineering positions would pay an average annual salary of $42,000.

The Bethesda, Md.-based company got Brevard County Commission approval May 4 for a tax exemption package valued at $104,000 over 10 years. The abatement is based on $1.4 million in building improvements and $950,000 in new equipment the company would spend to outfit the new manufacturing and office facility.

Lockheed Martin needs the extra space and workers to fulfill a U.S. Army contract to provide surveillance and reconnaissance units for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Itís unknown if a lease has been signed yet for the facility, which is on 8.5 acres at 4401 Fortune Place in West Melbourne. The firmís nearby 50,000-square-foot Cape Canaveral office, which employs 139 workers, would remain open.

A general contractor has not been hired yet for the HVAC work, telecommunications, electric upgrades and security system upgrades to the building.

The defense contractor also is seeking $600,000 worth of state tax credits, based on the $6,000 per position offered through the Qualified Defense & Space Contractor Tax Refund program. Itís unknown when the state will decide on that request. Enterprise Florida spokesman Stuart Doyle said the case is marked ďconfidential,Ē so he could not comment on the project.

Lockheed Martin also can access two other state tax refund programs: one for defense contractors and another for locating in a designated brownfield district.

A brownfield is an area with perceived or actual environmental contamination that could hinder redevelopment. Under 1997ís Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Act, tax credits and job creation incentives are available to help communities clean up and reuse brownfield areas.

West Melbourne City Manager Scott Morgan said the proposed site itself is not contaminated, even though itís in a brownfield area.

Brevard County is competing with Mississippi, Colorado and California for the jobs and new space, but a letter Lockheed Martin submitted to the county said it wants to keep this operation in Florida.

The project also has cleared another local hurdle: The West Melbourne City Council approved $45,893 worth of economic incentives to lure the company to its city. Morgan said the county and city contributions are needed to help leverage the state tax incentives.

Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs 140,000 people worldwide. The defense contractor reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion and is the largest provider of information technology services, systems integration and training to the U.S. government.

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