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Miltec’s high-tech plant gives Tishomingo County a boost

Tucked in the most northeast corner of the state between Tennessee and Alabama, Tishomingo County with a population of less than 20,000 just got a big job and image boost — to manufacture key components for missiles that will protect the U.S.

On August 6, Huntsville, Ala.-based Miltec Corporation officially opened its new Missiles & Space Company facility in Tishomingo County. Officials estimate the expansion will create 50 high-tech jobs for engineers and highly skilled technicians during the first two years of operation.

Research and development of missile defense systems and other defense-related systems will take place in the former NASA building located in the Tri-State Commerce Park north of Iuka.

“This is good news for our region,” said Congressman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), during his keynote address at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We appreciate the commitment Miltec has made to Mississippi and look forward to strengthening this partnership in the future. This is one more example of high-tech research and production activities being done in Mississippi. These operations enhance our state’s reputation as an attractive location for a growing number of defense and aerospace firms.”

Founded in April 1997 to conduct missile and aerospace system design, development, integration and testing, the company has offices in Arlington, Va., and Anchorage, Alaska, and a wholly-owned subsidiary, Miltec Research & Technology Corporation in Oxford.

Miltec primarily handles work for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the Aviation and Missile Command, and also has contracts with the Missile and Space Intelligence Center, U.S. Navy and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The company has also increased its focus on providing commercial software applications to national and international markets.

“We received funding last year to initiate Applied Counterspace Technology, or ACT, which is part of an anti-satellite program, and we went under contract in June. The Iuka plant will particularly support that program, which calls for the production of a three-stage booster,” said Don Miller, CEO of Miltec Corporation. “Right now, our intent would be to go to Kodiak Island, Alaska, for testing.”

The pay rate for technicians at the Iuka plant will range from $12 to $15 per hour. The salary package for engineers, especially those with advanced degrees and more than a decade of experience, will top $100,000 per year, said Miller.

“When NASA shut down, many engineers stayed in the area because they liked it so much, but were driving all the way to Memphis and Huntsville to work, so the labor force was already here,” said Gary Matthews, director of the Tishomingo County Development Foundation.

Miltec’s in-house engineering department has defense and aerospace systems capabilities including aerodynamics, avionics, control, guidance, lethality/warheads, navigation, propulsion, seeker/sensors, signal processing, simulations, software and structures.

The jobs created by Miltec “will be the type likely to survive the globalization of our world economy,” said Matthews. “It will have a stabilizing effect on job creation in Tishomingo County.”

“We’ll start off with, hopefully, the successful technology demonstration of the ACT program and to definitely carry it on into a full anti-satellite program that would be integrated into the national missile defense,” said Miller.

The company signed a 20-year lease on the 66,000-square-foot building originally built for the space shuttle’s solid rocket motor program. The facility, which features three overhead cranes and had been empty for at least a half dozen years, was partially reconfigured to include offices, laboratories and classified rooms. The county and state provided financial assistance for the renovation project.

“The location near Iuka was ideal for our company,” said Miller. “It’s an hour and a half from our corporate headquarters. It’s safe and secure. It’s the only place in the southeast that could meet our requirements.”

Arlie South, president of the Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors, said partnerships – from elected officials to economic development agencies to educational institutions – played pivotal roles in recruiting Miltec. He especially praised “Kerry Milligan and his staff at Tri-State Commerce Park for their hard work and dedication in getting the building ready for Miltec.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at mbj@thewritingdesk.com.


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