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VIDEO: Northrop Grumman Breaks Ground On $200M Electronics Plant in Waynesboro, Va.

Mon February 12, 2024 - National Edition
Waynesboro News Virginian

Northrop Grumman CEO/President Kathy Warden said the empty 63-acre site in Waynesboro, Va., on which the company broke ground Feb. 3 will "be transformed into a vibrant factory by 2025 with hundreds of jobs."

Warden, other Northrop Grumman officials, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Waynesboro leaders all shivered in the cold while celebrating the official start of construction on the advanced electronics and manufacturing facility the defense contractor is building on the site in Augusta County west of Charlottesville.

In addition to Northrop Grumman's investment of more than $200 million in factory construction and equipment on Shenandoah Village Drive behind the Waynesboro Town Center, the News Virginian reported the factory will provide more than 300 jobs paying an average of $94,000. Those positions will be gradually phased in after construction is finished in 2025.

Warden said the company would create "tech-ready employees" to work at the facility. Noting that Northrop Grumman is headquartered in Falls Church and already has nearly 7,000 employees in the state, she added, "We have bet on Virginia and will continue to bet on Virginia."

The company did not provide specific answers to questions by the News Virginian as to why it chose Waynesboro for the manufacturing plant.

However, Waynesboro Economic Development and Tourism Director Greg Hitchin has said his contacts with the company hinged on finding a site with correct zoning, transportation, and utilities.

Youngkin noted that after the 314,000-sq.-ft. facility is finished next year, production would start in 2026.

Factory Adds to Waynesboro's Rich Industrial Legacy

According to Hitchin, the 15-month trajectory of finalizing a deal with Northrop Grumman included significant effort from several Waynesboro city departments and the help of local real estate professionals.

Other factors included rezoning the factory site from highway business to industrial and a GO Virginia grant to help prepare the parcel of land for development.

Additionally, a new access road to the plant funded by a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) grant will be finished in 2025 as well, Hitchens told the Waynesboro news source.

Terry Short, a member of the Waynesboro City Council, said the location of Northrop Grumman in the area is just part of the "city's DNA" which includes a rich industrial legacy. The city's industrial history dates back nearly a century to when DuPont opened a large manufacturing plant downtown, followed by other industries such as General Electric.

In recent years, Waynesboro has depended more on the opening of big box retailers close to where the Northrop Grumman facility is set to be constructed.

Short also lauded the defense contractor for choosing a strategic location off Interstate 64 and in a strong labor market.

Waynesboro Mayor Lana Williams expressed appreciation for "the confidence Northrop Grumman has placed in our city."

Waynesboro Area Both Rural, Dynamic

For its part, the state is providing the company with a Commonwealth's Opportunity Fund grant of $8.5 million, which is tied to Northrop Grumman meeting certain performance measures. A reimbursement of another $8.5 million in Waynesboro taxes to the manufacturer over the plant's first decade is also bound to the company's performance agreement with the city.

The state's higher education institutions are also likely to be involved in training Northrop Grumman Waynesboro employees.

For instance, Blue Ridge Community College in nearby Weyers Cave is one of the schools expected to help train the plant's employees through its manufacturing and electronics technology programs, according to college President John Downey.

In his remarks at the groundbreaking, Youngkin said the state's population trends favor more people wanting to settle in rural Virginia "where they can live, work and raise a family," while adding that Northrup Grumman will be offering "300 high-paying, extraordinary jobs."

The governor said there has been a renaissance in Virginia job creation during his first two years in office — so much so that the state now ranks third in the nation in that metric.

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