Electronic Systems employee Bruce Mathieu (right center) briefs U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Randolph Mahr (left center) on the F-35 Lightning II program. Courtesy photo.
As it looks to fill hundreds of positions in NH, BAE Systems, the largest manufacturing employer in the state, is expanding its footprint here. On Oct. 15, the Business Finance Authority (BFA) approved a deal that will assist BAE in adding 3000 Goffs Falls Road in Manchester as its latest facility, joining the company’s existing operations in Nashua, Hudson, Litchfield and Merrimack.
According to NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs, the Manchester site’s proximity to Interstate 93, “will enable the company to attract the talent it needs.” Currently, BAE employs more than 5,000 people and, according to its website, the defense contractor is already seeking to fill about 500 positions in the state: 300 in engineering and technology, 74 in manufacturing/maintenance, about 50 in supply chain, and the rest in other support functions.
BFA Executive Director James Key-Wallace says the expansion of BAE Systems is an “exciting opportunity” for Manchester and all of the communities supported by the company’s significant presence in the state. Key-Wallace says a critical component of the deal was the BFA buying the Manchester facility and leasing it back to BAE over the next 10 years.
The price could not be disclosed as of press time, the deal is expected to be finalized around the end of the year.
“While the BAE deal is a complex one, it involves the cooperation and hard work of many agencies and individuals, including the state economic development team and the City of Manchester,” Key-Wallace says. “This structure has become a powerful tool used by the BFA and a successful way for companies to grow cost effectively and invest their capital in infrastructure improvements to grow rapidly.”
Key-Wallace says at the end of the lease, BAE can purchase the building, and the state benefits by having a large manufacturing company that is growing with good-quality, high-paying jobs. He says it is significant, too, that the company continues to expand in NH.
BAE Systems’ cost-effective optical seeker for precision-guided munitions is designed to improve navigation, as well as automate target location and homing, for different types of munitions that are used in GPS-denied and other contested environments. Courtesy photo.
“The BAE deal is significant for many reasons. First, it shows the company believes that New Hampshire is open for business and is a good place to expand its operations. That’s exactly the kind of message we want to broadcast to all companies looking to grow their operations—that here in New Hampshire we are willing to work with companies and get creative in order to help their operations grow. BAE is also one of the state’s largest employers, and the types of jobs they offer are high-paying positions that will help contribute to our state’s economic success.”
Key-Wallace says the BFA has used this type of financing structure before and had great success. One example is the Safran/Albany International facility in Rochester that, he says, created hundreds of high-quality manufacturing jobs.
The 220,000-square-foot site, located off Brown Avenue, is close to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Interstates 93 and 293. It was built in the mid-1980s for a New York insurance company. Beginning in 1992, it served as NH headquarters for BlueCross BlueShield before and after the merger with Anthem in 2000. (Anthem eventually relocated to a downtown site.) The building overlooks Pine Island Pond and Park, which was home to an amusement park from 1902 to 1962.
Paul Roberts, director of media relations at BAE Systems, says the company is unable to share specifics until the deal is set. “As our business continues to expand, we are working closely with government officials from the State of New Hampshire and the City of Manchester to secure additional space to help accommodate our local growth and support franchise programs within the company. We will share more details as agreements are finalized.”