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2k more Raytheon jobs could almost return company to 2009 level

A much-hyped expansion by missile manufacturer Raytheon could bump the company's local workforce nearly back to employment levels seen in 2009. The region's largest private employer could add nearly 2,000 jobs, bringing it to about 11,500 workers. In 2009, Raytheon reported more than 12,000 Tucson employees.

While Pima County officials would only comment anonymously about Raytheon's plans, and company representatives have kept mum, the defense contractor is planning to add some 1,975 workers to its Tucson operations, near Tucson International Airport and in the University of Arizona Tech Park. The company is ramping up production of the Standard Missile-3 and SM-6 interceptors, and has inked a deal with Norway's Kongsberg, with plans to assemble and test that company's Naval Strike Missile in Tucson.

County and Raytheon representatives have credited the county's purchase of land to create a buffer zone around the missile plant near TIA as an important factor in the expansion.

Also in the Aerospace, Defense and Technology Business & Research Park, the county is building a headquarters for high-altitude balloon firm World View, and facilitating a plant for new small-rocket company Vector Space Systems.

Without getting into specifics because of confidentiality agreements, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and other local leaders have touted several pending job announcements that they say could expand the local workforce with 3,500 high-paying positions.

Raytheon reported that it has about 9,600 workers now. In 2009, about 12,140 were employed by the company in Tucson. In early 2013, Raytheon reported 10,300 local workers.

The new hires will have an average salary of $110,000, the company told county officials.

“Raytheon is always positioning itself for growth,” a company spokesman said. "As we continue to win new business, we will evaluate expansion opportunities in Tucson and at other company sites."

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In 2010, the company chose Huntsville, Ala., as the location for final assembly of the SM-3, with about 300 jobs created in a new plant on the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal. The company chose the location because of the large buffer zone and significant tax incentives unavailable in Arizona.

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Golden shovels await the symbolic groundbreaking of the Aviation Parkway south of Raytheon and TIA in March 2015.