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With a new $120 million, 250,000-square-foot facility in Salt Lake City, ITT Exelis has cemented its future in the state, said Mike Blair, vice president and general manager of composite structures for the company.
“Our vision is to build a thriving business that will bring even our grandchildren jobs,” he said of the new composite design and manufacturing center. The company held a grand opening for the facility on Thursday afternoon.
President and CEO Dave Melcher said the new building shows a commitment to the market, the community and the state. During the last year, Exelis increased its Utah workforce from 200 employees to more than 300.
The new building, at 5995 W. Amelia Earhart Drive, has the potential to employ about 2,700 people, Gov. Gary R. Herbert said. He said while it may not be full today, it’s a matter of when it will be full—not if.
Blair said 2,700 may be optimistic, especially in the short term, but the facility was built specifically to handle the growing workload and add automation to the outdated process Salt Lake employees had been using. He said the market is expected to triple in the next 10 years and continue to grow beyond that, and Exelis’ Utah jobs will grow along with it.
The Salt Lake facility will be making carbon fiber and composites aerospace parts for military and commercial aircraft. Composites and carbon fiber products have seen a huge increase in use because they save weight and increase durability, said James Barber, vice president and general manager of integrated structures.
Barber said eventually ITT Exelis will begin creating products outside aerospace, but it has no immediate plans to do so. Composites are good for a variety of uses and Barber said many people within the company, including the board of directors, have discussed new product lines. However, for now they will continue to “focus on core competencies,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) called the new building a “great American story” of investment in the future.
At the grand opening, Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, presented Melcher with the “Project of the Year” award.