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Raytheon expansion brings more high-tech manufacturing jobs

FOREST — Unlike some parts of the country, Forest and Scott County are retaining manufacturing jobs and creating more. The expansion of the Raytheon Company, a leading supplier of advanced, electronically-scanned products for the U.S. Department of Defense, is being applauded by city and county leaders.

The 90,000-square-foot expansion to the Forest plant is now under construction and will increase the employee base by 18%, bringing 110 new jobs to the area for a total of about 1,000 employees.

“These are high-tech jobs and it’s great,” said Forest Mayor Nancy Chambers. “Raytheon is as fine a corporate citizen as a town can have. They are constantly working toward protecting their employees by getting new defense contracts. We are 100% supportive and enjoy having them here.”

She added that the company contributes to the town’s economy, schools and community life and she hopes the new employees will choose to live in Forest.

“Raytheon is a tremendous asset to Scott County and the Board of Supervisors will partner with them to aid in their growth and development,” said Bruce McMillan, president of the Scott County Board of Supervisors.

Raytheon’s new Forest operation will support several extremely sophisticated defense programs, including a revolutionary active electronically scanned array radar for the U.S. Air Force.

“The decision to expand in Forest is a reflection of the hard work and high-quality performance of our Mississippi employees,” said Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon’s vice president for engineering, technology and mission assurance. “At this facility we turn out some of the finest products in the defense industry, products that not only support our national security interests, but that help protect our men and women in uniform daily, as well.”

Raytheon’s advanced, electronically-scanned array products are the world’s most advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface multimode radars now in production. Providing unmatched detection, targeting, tracking and self protection, this technology gives pilots the edge in today’s challenging battle arena.

“These AESA radars are designed to last for decades to come,” Lawrence said. “Whatever the task — defense, surveillance or strike — pilots and crew know they can rely on Raytheon AESAs for optimal mission assurance.”

Mitzie Breland, executive director of the Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, says the plant addition is definitely good news. “We congratulate Raytheon on this expansion. They are good chamber supporters and are actively involved in the community,” she said. “We welcome their new employees to our warm city and hope to assist them with their relocation. The Raytheon employees who’ve made Forest their home love it.”

She said positive local support has helped keep the manufacturing jobs in Forest, a town of about 6,000 residents. The population of Scott County is 28,739.

“Raytheon is a wonderful company and a strong supporter of the community,” Breland added.

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, of which the Forest plant is part, is the leading provider of sensor systems, giving war fighters the most accurate and timely information available for the network-centric battlefield. Other plants are located in Goleta, Calif., Dallas, McKinney and Plano, Texas, and several international locations. This division has 13,000 employees and had revenues of $4.2 billion in 2005.

Rusty McMillan, executive director of the Mid-Mississippi Development District, cited the importance of partnerships and cooperation between local, state and federal leaders, economic development organizations and the private sector for manufacturing expansion.

“One cannot find a better example of cooperation than this project,” he said. “Raytheon, a world leader in electronics, is working with national, state and local leadership to create quality jobs and raise the level of technological sophistication throughout the region. This is an example of all parties involved contributing to a successful end result.”

In addition to local and state leaders and company officials, the recent groundbreaking for the expanded facility was attended by Sen. Trent Lott and Congressman Chip Pickering. Lott praised Raytheon as a world-class company with world class employees and applauded the company’s commitment to Mississippi.

“I’m hopeful that Raytheon will continue to look for opportunities to grow new lines of business in Mississippi in support of our 21st Century military,” he said. “Unlike some states, Mississippi is creating manufacturing jobs, and we’re doing it in the high-tech sector where a wide array of complex products is now made in Mississippi.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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