By David Cruz
The formal announcement of a $100 million dollar Navy contract for Lockheed Martin drew congressmen, state lawmakers and both the governor and lieutenant governor, not to mention a couple of hundred Lockheed Martin employees eager to greet the man they credit with securing their livelihoods.
“We understand how important it is to New Jersey to continue to maintain its leadership in technology,” Gov. Chris Christie told the audience. “We understand how important this is from our higher educational system. We understand how important it is for our economy.”
The five-year deal is for engineering and other support services for the Navy’s Aegis radar system, which is centered at the defense contractor’s 4,000-person facility in Moorestown. It’s a critical system deployed all around the world, including in hotspots like East Asia.
“If some rogue country like North Korea ever chose to attack us or our friends, we could stop them,” added House Armed Services Committee Member Rep. Rob Andrews. “That is what you have done.”
State incentives — $40 million worth through the “Grow New Jersey” grant program — helped make the deal possible by allowing Lockheed Martin to compete with other contractors around the country.
“By receiving this [grant] they were able to lower their price and, as part of a competitive process with the federal government, and with that lowered price, they were able to win the award,” said Assemblyman Al Coutinho. “What’s critical about this is that this will secure this facility here in Moorestown, which has several thousand jobs, for the next 10 to 15 years.”
“It would have been devastating for this facility had we lost the Aegis franchise,” said Jim Sheridan, who directs the Aegis USN Programs for Lockheed Martin. “I can’t answer … specifically [whether] we would we have had to close. We certainly would have had to restructure significantly, so I think you get my drift there. There would have been a lot of jobs lost in New Jersey.”
State incentives didn’t create any new jobs here but officials say they were able to save hundreds of them and they say that the success of this deal could mean future military contracts in New Jersey and along with that, hundreds of new jobs.