The economic boom in Huntsville continues.
On Tuesday, Northrop Grumman announced a new expansion for its latest mission.
"To support the ground base strategic deterrent weapon system development activity," Senior Vice President and General Manager of Northrop Grumman's Space Systems Strategic Deterrent Systems Greg Manuel said.
The company was awarded a $13.3 billion contract, so it built a new facility at Cummings Research Park. Company leaders say Huntsville was the obvious place to do it.
"There's not a better place for defined, high-tech resources for aerospace and defense," Manuel said.
It will be one of the first large US Air Force programs to come to the Rocket City, and with that mission comes new jobs.
"We are committed to bring around 500 high-paying, highly technical jobs to this campus to support GBSD," Manuel said.
"We are looking for cyber scientists, system engineers, software developers, but also folks to help us in global supply chain, business management and security. All those things you can imagine that would go into developing a new weapon system will be needed here in Huntsville."
However, there have been some issues because of the pandemic.
"We are seeing a tightening of the labor market," Manuel explained.
But, this isn't a major concern.
"We're not having that hard of a job recruiting people into the state, but we certainly are having a hard time finding local resources or teammates who currently live here," Manuel further elaborated.
Manuel looks forward to what's to come.
"Really excited to have this program here and really be the beacon for growth in this area," he said.
The Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce also is thrilled about the expansion.
"Their continued growth in Huntsville will be seen and felt across the community," Executive Director of Cummings Research Park Erin Koshut said.
More jobs means more people in the area, and the benefits of that growth will trickle down to the community.
"They support restaurant, shopping and housing that add to the city's sales tax revenue. That allows the city and the county to re-invest in Huntsville going forward," Koshut explained.
Northrop Grumman is already planning to work with local colleges and high schools to develop the future workforce.
"They realize the investment in our workforce is important to our community growth and our community ecosystem," Koshut said.
The chamber says with all the recent growth Huntsville is becoming the smart place to be, and Northrop Grmnman agrees.
"It's a great place to work, to live and raise a family," Manuel said.
A second part of the new facility that focuses on manufacturing is currently being worked on and is expected to open up soon.
Several state leaders are excited about this new expansion.
“By selecting Alabama’s Rocket City, Northrop Grumman has picked the ideal location to carry out this important national security mission, and the company’s growth plans represent welcome news for Huntsville and for all of the state,” Gov. Kay Ivey said.
Alabama’s Secretary of Commerce Greg Sanfield added that Huntsville has been deeply rooted in keeping our nation safe for years now. He says the Rocket City is "a natural fit for Northrop Grumman’s expanding work on the nation’s next-generation ICBM system. For this reason, I know this mission will be a success.”