Pike Co., Lockheed Martin

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

will benefit from bond issue


Staff Writer

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Some of the money approved by the Alabama Legislature last week will be used for industrial development in Pike County.

The $103 million economic development bond issue passed during the Regular Session that ended May 21 will create more than 7,000 jobs across the state, marking one of the greatest economic development advancement in Alabama history.

Somewhere between $7 million and $11 million will be coming to Pike County and, specifically, Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations, said State Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne.

"It will benefit us for a long time," Mitchell said of the bond issue.

"That was not easily accomplished. We had to cloture the Senate to get a vote."

In other words, senators had to bring legislative debate to a halt by calling for an immediate vote.

Mitchell said the bond issue was for such industries as Boeing, Mercedes and Toyota and he is proud is district was able to get a piece of the pie.

One thing Mitchell pointed out is "30 percent of funds" from the bond issue will be used in Southeast Alabama, which "means jobs" for the area and shows the "strength of Southeast Alabama," Mitchell said.

The bond issue will go a long way in helping Lockheed Martin move forward with its plans.

In January, it was announced the Pike County facility was selected

as the final assembly and test site for the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Weapon System which is worth $3.8 billion and more than 150 jobs.

When the announcement was made earlier this year, Gov. Don Siegelman said it shows the rest of the nation that Alabama workers are "competent and capable" to build missiles for the nation’s defense system.

Although the bond issue has been approved, Pike Countians will not see results overnight.

The Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase will start in 2003 and construction of a 39,000-square-foot, $8.6 million state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the THAAD program. That phase will also involve personnel staffing and training, beginning in 2004. The first early development unit work will begin in 2004. Another 15,500 square feet of administration and storage space will also be added in 2004.

The second phase ­ full rate production ­ will begin in 2007 with the construction of a 20,600-square-foot, $5 million addition to the assembly and testing facility, plus another 18,500 square feet of administration and storage space.

Currently, Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations ­ which has produced the Hellfire II, Longbow Hellfire antitank missiles, the Javelin antitank missile, AGM-142 air-to-surface missile, the missile for the Patriot air defense system and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile ­ employs about 160 and has become known as the Lockheed Martin Center of Excellence for Strike Weapons.

Over the life of the THAAD missile program, more than 150 people will be added to the Pike County team.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control chose Pike County for the THAAD because of its outstanding performance in building quality products, as well as its attention to cost-control and manufacturing detail on several other Department of Defense programs currently in production at the facility.