Northrop Grumman is constructing four new, state-of-the-art buildings in Northern Utah as part of its recently announced expansion in the state. This $380 million capital investment will be accompanied by the creation of over 3,000 new jobs. The Northrop Grumman expansion is projected to have an economic impact in the state of $1.2 billion annually. It is on track to grow aerospace and defense employment in Utah by about 9%.
“Northern Utah is an attractive location for aerospace and defense companies due to its trained workforce, critical infrastructure and broad-based community support,” said Chris Roybal, president & CEO of the Northern Utah Economic Alliance. “With an employee base of more than 32,000 people, Utah is one of the top states in the nation for aerospace and defense employment.”
A Weapon of National Importance
Northrop Grumman’s expansion in Utah is directly tied to its U.S. Air Force contract win. In September 2020, Northrop Grumman landed the nine-year, $13.3 billion contract to engineer and manufacture a replacement for the land-based component of the U.S. nuclear triad, called Minuteman III. The effort to replace this weapon system is called the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.
The nuclear triad – a formidable trifecta of nuclear land, sea and air systems – is often referred to as the backbone of America’s national security. The two final contenders for the GBSD contract were Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Ultimately, the Northrop Grumman team demonstrated innovation and agility by applying a digital engineering approach, an innovative solution with utmost affordability to be selected by the USAF to modernize the nation’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Northrop Grumman and its heritage companies have supported, sustained and modernized the U.S. Air Force’s ICBM systems since the beginnings (1950s). A lot of this work happens at its Utah facilities. This was an advantage for Utah in the long run.
Northrop Grumman Selects Northern Utah for GBSD Program Headquarters
Winning the GBSD business was a complex site selection effort.
“The primes competing for the GBSD contract could ultimately place the program headquarters where they saw fit since the Department of Defense was location neutral,” said Colby Cooley, vice president of business development for the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. “Our state strategy was to develop incentives that any company competing for the contract could utilize. Fortunately, this aligned well with Northrop Grumman’s approach, which was focused on Utah to begin with.”
In the end, Utah’s collaborative government and business friendliness won the day.
“As the division leader that includes GBSD, I can’t think of a better place for our headquarters for this important mission than Roy, Utah. It is up the street from our Air Force customer and strategically located near our existing Northrop Grumman Utah facilities,” said Greg Manuel, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager of the Strategic Deterrent Systems division. “Northern Utah is a great place for Northrop Grumman, and we are thankful for the support of national, state and local elected officials and staff as we continue to expand our footprint here.”
An Aerospace and Defense Hub
The state’s burgeoning aerospace and defense industry would not be possible without the presence of Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) in Northern Utah. Being close to the base was a draw for Northrop Grumman during the site selection process.
HAFB, the second largest air force base in the nation by population and geographical size, represents over 50% of Utah’s defense sector and contributes nearly $4 billion to State GDP annually. It is the largest single-site employer in Utah and the economic cornerstone of Northern Utah.
Now, thanks to the Falcon Hill Development, companies like Northrop Grumman are able to strategically locate next to the base in the city of Roy. The Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park is the largest Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) in the Air Force and one of the largest commercial EULs in the Department of Defense. It comprises 550 acres and almost five miles of interstate freeway frontage near the base. Currently Falcon Hill has over 1 million square feet of commercial space completed and under development.
Welcoming an Economic Boom
Utah has a history of raising the bar for innovation in the aerospace and defense industry, and Northrop Grumman will continue to be a forward-thinking industry leader as the company reimagines the nation’s most important missile system and redefines what is possible.
“This influential work is having a ripple effect across the state as Northrop Grumman’s sizable growth supports existing companies in the region and encourages new businesses to set up shop in Utah where business is booming,” said Roybal.
[Sidebar] By the Numbers: Utah’s Aerospace and Defense Industry
Utah is one of the top states in the nation for aerospace and defense with an employment base of more than 32,000 people. Companies like Northrop Grumman, Boeing , L3 Harris, Parker Hannifin, Hexcel and others call Utah home.
The industry’s rapid growth in Utah stems, in part, from the state’s business friendly climate. In 2020, Business Facilities ranked Utah’s “Business Tax Climate” as the ninth best in the nation.
Another characteristic of Utah is its well-educated workforce. Seven higher education institutions offer specialized programs in aerospace, resulting in a high concentration of aerospace engineers, materials scientists, machine operators and other aerospace-related occupations. Additionally, applied technology colleges provide a pipeline of machinists, welders and composite technicians.
With exciting things happening in its aerospace and defense industry, Utah’s future looks bright.