*This storyline was voted as the top storyline of 2017 by Gazette staff. Other top storylines include the Cedar Rapids casino failure, the debate over fireworks, and Medicaid in Iowa, among others.*
With the Labor Day weekend coming to a close, a multibillion dollar business dropped a bombshell of news for Cedar Rapids.
United Technologies Corp., which makes products from jet engines to Otis elevators, announced in early September it planned to acquire Rockwell Collins in a $23 billion deal. The inclusion of Rockwell’s debt raised the acquisition’s value to $30 billion.
The acquisition would see Cedar Rapids’ largest employer join with a UTC division, UTC Aerospace Systems, to form Collins Aerospace Systems. Rockwell would no longer be an independent company nor publicly traded on its own.
Rockwell Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Kelly Ortberg would lead Collins Aerospace as its CEO, with UTC Aerospace President Dave Gitlin serving as president and chief operating officer.
The announcement sent waves through the community, causing some to view it with anxiety while others are cautiously optimistic.
Should the acquisition go through, it could mean more employees in Cedar Rapids, company officials have said. But the prospect of Cedar Rapids losing its major employer, or at least a major corporate headquarters, still lingers.
In the months since, officials at Rockwell Collins and UTC have started on a transition plan.
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On Jan. 11, Rockwell shareholders will vote whether to approve the deal. Regulatory approval also is required. A decision on where Collins Aerospace would be based is expected by the end of March.
If approved, the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2018, perhaps as early as July.