Sept. 22, 2020 – Huntington Ingalls announced today the company plans to build an Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence in Hampton, which will create more than 250 jobs.
Gov. Ralph Northam, who made the announcement, noted that Huntington Ingalls has a dual role in Virginia, “keeping our military strong and providing jobs to help our economy.”
Andy Green, executive vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries and president of technical solutions, explained the need for the facility: “Future dominance in the maritime domain will require a mix of manned and unmanned vessels, both surface and undersea. These vessels will need to be able to share data, adapt to changing mission requirements, and work across platforms from all the military and intelligence services.
“HII’s new Unmanned Center of Excellence will be where many of these unmanned platforms will be designed, engineered, constructed and tested.”
Hampton and Virginia competed for the facility with other states. Hampton is a good choice, noted Mayor Donnie Tuck: “With the National Institute of Aerospace, the NASA Langley Research Center, and Joint Base Langley Eustis all located less than a mile from the future home of Huntington Ingalls’ Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence, Hampton will remain in the forefront of research and development on unmanned systems, advanced manufacturing technologies, aerospace research, and defense-related industries.”
At the ceremonial groundbreaking today, developer Rob Brown noted that work on the site, at the intersection of Commander Sheppard Boulevard and North Campus Parkway, was under way. “Steel will be going up today,” he said, adding: “we expect to finish the first building by the end of the year.”
The site is owned by the city’s Economic Development Authority. City Council recently appropriated funds to bring the site up to a Tier 4, or shovel-ready site. “Without that, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Chuck Rigney, director of Economic Development.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Hampton and the Hampton Roads Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $1.5 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Hampton with the project. The Governor also approved a performance-based grant of $1.5 million from the Virginia Investment Performance program, an incentive that encourages capital investment by existing Virginia companies. Huntington Ingalls Industries is eligible to receive funding from the Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund, administered by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Support for Huntington Ingalls Industries’ job creation will be provided through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative created by VEDP in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System, with funding support from the Northam administration and the Virginia General Assembly. Launched in 2019, the program accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture.
Go online to read the complete news release from the governor’s office.