116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — As more than one speaker among the VIPs at a ribbon cutting for BAE Systems’ new building in southwest Cedar Rapids noted, the bright, sunshiny event Tuesday marked a “significant milestone” in economic development for the city.
The aerospace and defense company saw some 400 people — elected officials, BAE Systems leaders and employees, reporters and a half-dozen members from the nearby Iowa National Guard base — gathered in the parking lot outside the $100 million, 278,000-square-foot research and manufacturing center it had built at 76th Avenue SW and Sixth Street SW in Cedar Rapids.
More than 800 work at the facility, home to BAE Systems’ Navigation and Senor Systems unit, Product Line Director Luke Bishop said in opening remarks. Their job? To develop technology that helps “protect the men and women in our military ... and our allies.”
Tom Arseneault stuck with that patriotic theme.
“We protect those who protect us,” the BAE Systems’ president and chief executive officer said. “They depend on technology, some of it developed here” by the BAE Systems design and production teams.
“Decades hence we will marvel at the magic” generated in Cedar Rapids, he said.
The project is one of three new manufacturing and warehouse facilities representing over a $100 million investment each in the city’s fast-growing southwest quadrant. They include a $108.6 million FedEx Ground distribution center and a planned $140 million Sub-Zero refrigeration and appliance company light manufacturing facility.
United Kingdom-based BAE Systems bought Collins Aerospace’s military GPS business unit in 2020, as part of the $135 billion merger between United Technologies and Raytheon — as requested by the U.S. Department of Justice. BAE Systems decided to keep the operations in Eastern Iowa.
BAE Systems’ Precision Strike and Sensing Solutions vice president and general manager, John Watkins, stated the company’s mission is to ensure the military has “the most reliable ... tools they need. (We’re) creating the technologies that shape the future.”
The Sixth Street SW site brought together the former Collins Aerospace employees who had worked at separate facilities in Cedar Rapids and Coralville.
In a speech at the ribbon cutting, Gov. Kim Reynolds touched on the regional economic-development message of the morning, saying she hoped this facility signaled the beginning of “a long and fruitful relationship.”
Reynolds pointed out the building was “designed for growth,” with room for an additional 50,000 square feet and jobs available for a minimum of $22 an hour.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said BAE Systems’ state-of-the-art center was exactly the sort development “needed if the next generation is going to do better than the current generation.”
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson added this “partnership” among BAE Systems, the city, state and Kirkwood Community College opens a “world of opportunity.”
Kirkwood recently signed a workforce training contract with the aerospace company, Jasmine Almoayyed, Kirkwood’s vice president of continuing education and training services, told The Gazette.
In her remarks, Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell referred to the building as “a manufacturing center of excellence.” She also praised the company for being good “community partners, inside and outside this building” — specifically noting its employees work with Girls Who Code, among other programs.
Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz also touched on BAE Systems’ “significant investment” in constructing the facility and keeping jobs in the Corridor. None of which, he continued would have been possible “without the perfect blend of ... everyone coming together” in government and the private sector.
The Sixth Street SW operation, along with Collins Aerospace’s footprint, leads toward making this area “an aerospace hub,” Pomeranz said.
When asked about job growth, Bishop told The Gazette the company had “lots of opportunities still” and, “as a business, we’re always looking to grow.”
Comments: (319) 398-8307; email@example.com