By David Madden, Robin Rieger
MOORESTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — Officials in New Jersey are crowing about a new naval contract with Lockheed Martin which retains some 3,000 jobs.
The company developed the AEGIS Defense System which protects Navy ships from incoming missiles. The contract includes building products for new ships as well as modernizing older ships.
The AEGIS system is aboard some 100 ships manned by the U.S. and allies, and controls defensive missile systems that, given the current threats from North Korea, could prove pivotal.
The $100-million dollar, five-year contract will allow for those systems to be updated, as well as keep 3,000 jobs in place here.
“It is an important job creator and preserver in our state,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said. “We all know that and recognize it and it’s something that’s going to be very important for our country’s defense.”
“When you’re thinking about system defense you’re hitting a bullet with a bullet in space, so, that’s pretty cool,” said Jim Sheridan, director of the U.S. Navy Aegis Programs.
75 percent of the 4,000 employees at Lockheed Martin’s Moorestown facility will work on the AEGIS system.
“It would have been devastating to this facility had we lost the AEGIS franchise,” Sheridan explained.
And a blow to nearby restaurants, like Barones Tuscan Grill and Megu Sushi, whose customers are Lockheed Martin employees.
“We do several lunches a day all, Lockheed, a lot of corporate events here often actually. They are a large part of our lunch crowd,” said Vincenzo Barone of Barone’s Tuscan Grill.
“It’s great for them, yeah, and everyone here is happy. We’re looking forward to seeing them more often,” said Brenda Lin, owner of Megu Sushi.
At Caryn Max Salon West, Lockheed Martin employees are offered a 15 percent discount.
“It means a lot that they stay here because its bread and butter in my pocket,” said Cynthia Crowley, stylist and masseuse.
The state approved a $40 million Grow New Jersey incentive grant for infrastructure and equipment improvements here at the Moorestown facility.
It was part of the proposal to the Navy that Lockheed Martin says helped win the contract.
Plans are also in the works to set up an education research partnership between the state and Lockheed Martin to help develop the next generation of workers close to home.