Northrop Grumman CEO and President Kathy Warden said the empty 63-acre Waynesboro site on which the company broke ground Friday will “be transformed into a vibrant factory by 2025 with hundreds of jobs.”
Leaders from Northrop Grumman, the city of Waynesboro and the commonwealth — including Gov. Glenn Youngkin — shivered in the cold Friday as they celebrated the official start of construction on the advanced electronics and manufacturing facility the major defense technology company is building in Waynesboro.
There will be more than 300 jobs paying $94,000 on average and an investment of more than $200 million in factory construction and equipment at the site behind Waynesboro Town Center, according to officials. The jobs are expected to be gradually phased in after construction is finished in 2025.
Warden said the company would create “tech-ready employees” to work at the plant. Noting that the company is headquartered in Falls Church and already has nearly 7,000 employees in Virginia, she said, “We have bet on Virginia and will continue to bet on Virginia.”
Northrop Grumman did not provide specific answers to questions Friday about why the company chose Waynesboro. However, Waynesboro Economic Development and Tourism Director Greg Hitchin has said his contacts with the company said the decision hinged on a site with correct zoning, transportation and utilities.
Youngkin said construction of the 314,000-square-foot plant will be finished by 2025 and production will start in 2026.
“These will be 300 high-paying, extraordinary jobs,” Youngkin said.
The governor boasted that Virginia has experienced a renaissance in its job market during his first two years in office, noting that the commonwealth now ranks third in the nation for job creation.
“There are 230,000 more Virginians working than two years ago,” Youngkin said Friday after the groundbreaking.
Waynesboro Mayor Lana Williams expressed appreciation for “the confidence Northrop Grumman has placed in our city.”
Hitchin said the 15-month trajectory of finalizing a deal with Northrop Grumman included significant effort from several city departments and the help of local real estate professionals.
Other factors included rezoning the factory site from highway business to industrial and a GO Virginia grant to help prepare the site for development. A new access road to the plant funded by a Virginia Department of Transportation grant will be finished in 2025.
Waynesboro City Councilman Terry Short said the location of Northrop Grumman in Waynesboro is just part of the “city’s DNA” that includes a rich industrial legacy.
That legacy dates back nearly a century when Wilmington, Delaware-based chemical manufacturer DuPont opened a large plant downtown. That was followed by other industry heavyweights, such as Boston-based General Electric, which had a factory making power grid components in the city for years. Both of those facilities have shuttered.
In recent years, Waynesboro has depended more on the opening of big-box retailers close to where the Northrop Grumman facility will be built.
Short also said the company picked a strategic location near Interstate 64 and a strong labor market.
Youngkin said Virginia’s population trends favor people who want to settle in rural Virginia “where they can live, work and raise a family.’
Virginia is providing the company with a Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund grant of $8.5 million. The grant is tied to Northrop Grumman meeting performance measures. A reimbursement of $8.5 million in Waynesboro taxes to Northrop Grumman over the first decade of the plant is also bound to the company’s performance agreement with the city.
Virginia higher education institutions are likely to be involved in training the Northrop Grumman Waynesboro employees.
Blue Ridge Community College President John Downey said the Weyers Cave school is expected to help train the employees through its manufacturing and electronics technology programs.