Lockheed Martin breaks ground to create more jobs

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -  Lockheed Martin Missles and Fire Control broke ground on Thursday to double the size of its Lufkin production facility. "There is hope, there is light and there is expansion, and we're just glad to have Lockheed Martin as a part of our community," said one of the speakers.

Nationwide, many companies seem to be shrinking to avoid breaking the bank, but Lockheed Martin in Lufkin is actually breaking ground and expanding. "We're going to double the size of the production facility from approximately 50,000 square feet to a 100,000 square feet," said Keith Johnson, Lufkin Site Director.

Making room to produce more electronics and sub-assemble missiles and weapon systems. To name a few, the Lufkin plant produces The Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which is a long-range guilded missile that gives commanders the immediate firepower to shape the battle space.

The Guided MLRS Rocket (GMLRS) is also produced in Lufkin. The GMLRS is an all-weather, precision-guided rocket that provides increased accuracy thus reducing the number of rockets necessary to defeat current targets. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) is the world's most advanced, capable and powerful theater air missile, and currently is the only fielded pure kinetic air missile, also produced in the Lufkin plant.

With the growth, the plant could use a few extra hands. "It will bring some jobs, but we can't quantify those right now, but there will be some modest growth," said Johnson.

Former Congressman Charlie Wilson has been instrumental in paving the path for the Lockheed Martin plant. "We started out hoping for 70 employees, and then we hoped for 100 and then we hoped for a 150 and I'm just not going to say what we're hoping for now, but we're hoping for a lot more," said Wilson.

Others agree this ground breaking could not have come at a better time. One speaker said, "We are looking forward to people being hired."

"Particularly now, when the economy is not doing so well on a global scale, it really is a great boost to have high quality jobs provided by such quality companies," said Jim Wehmeier, Director of Economic Development in Lufkin.

"We got good workers here in East Texas," said Louie Gohmert, Republican Congressman. "They work hard, they make a good product." Gohmert said that is why expanding this business is a no brainer. The plant's expansion should be completed by the end of this year and in full swing by the first first quarter.