Aerojet Rocketdyne launches expansion in Alabama’s Rocket City

Aerojet Rocketdyne launches expansion in Alabama’s Rocket City
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake, center, shakes hands with Gov. Kay Ivey as Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield looks on at a groundbreaking ceremony for the company's new manufacturing facility in Huntsville. (Hal Yeager/Governor's Office)

Aerojet Rocketdyne officially launched work this week on a new 136,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility in Huntsville, reinforcing the status of Alabama’s “Rocket City” as a major center for innovation in the aerospace and defense sectors.

At a groundbreaking, Aerojet Rocketdyne President and CEO Eileen Drake said the company’s expansion plans will bring roughly 800 jobs to Huntsville. Earlier this year, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced plans for the new manufacturing facility, where it will produce its AR1 rocket engine, composite cases for rocket motors, 3-D printed rocket engine components and other parts. It will begin production in 2019.

That followed an earlier announcement that the company was relocating its Defense division headquarters and Rocket Shop advanced programs to Huntsville, where it has had a presence for more than 50 years.

“Our major expansion in this region that started in 2016 underscores Aerojet Rocketdyne’s belief that Huntsville, which is known as ‘Rocket City,’ will continue to grow as a key aerospace and defense hub for our nation for many decades to come, and Aerojet Rocketdyne plans to be a leader in that growth,” said Drake, a former Army aviator who trained at Alabama’s Fort Rucker.

In addition to the new manufacturing facility, Drake said Aerojet Rocketdyne recently leased office space in Cummings Research Park for its Huntsville operation, which today has around 150 workers. The company has begun the hiring process for its expansion, holding a job fair in Huntsville that attracted 300 people, she said.

The new jobs will have an average annual salary of about $80,000.

Gov. Kay Ivey said the advanced work Aerojet Rocketdyne will be carrying out in Huntsville matches the city’s long history of innovation and aerospace engineering.

“This is not only an exciting day for Aerojet Rocketdyne and the city of Huntsville — it’s an exciting day for the entire state of Alabama,” she said.

She also said Alabama is becoming a premier destination for aerospace industry investment. In 2016, aerospace companies announced $260 million in new investment in Alabama, along with 2,000 jobs, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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