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Lockheed Martin Secures a Tactical Edge in Florida

To reach great heights starts with a purpose. For decades, this has been the mantra behind Lockeed Martin's impressive legacy of innovation and achievement. Peel back the layers of almost any American triumph in aviation, aerospace or defense during the last century and you’ll likely find Lockheed Martin’s mark.

Lockeed Martin Homes in on Success in the Most Military-Friendly State in the Nation.

From the Lockheed Vega 5B that spirited Amelia Earhart across the Atlantic, to Skylab, our first space station, to the P-80 Shooting Star that brought fighter jet technology to the Allies, Lockheed Martin and its heritage companies were there.

Fast forward to 1995, when Martin Marietta and the Lockheed Corporation merged to form one of the largest defense contractors in the world. From advanced sensor and missile systems to space exploration and mission support to fighter jets and immersive trainers, Lockheed Martin offers some of the world’s most advanced aerospace and security solutions. The company is also the largest provider of IT services, systems integration and training to the U.S. Government.

Focusing on Florida

The global security and defense company operates 570 facilities across the country, more than 90 of which are in Florida. From its 20 major military installations to its unsurpassed aviation and aerospace infrastructure, Florida has emerged as one of Lockheed Martin’s strategic gems. “Today, every one of our corporation’s five business areas has a presence in the state,” said Frank St. John, Lockheed Martin Vice President.

“Our Florida employees push the edge of technology in many ways, from smart sensors and defense systems, to highly advanced computer-based modeling and simulation, to unmanned underwater vehicles, to planning missions that will one day take humans to Mars.” It may be unusual to find the resources necessary to support such a wide range of projects in one place, but as Florida continues to prove, it’s not impossible.

Today, every one of our corporation’s five business areas has a presence in the state.

Frank St. John
Vice President, Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin’s relationship with Florida stretches back to 1956, when it built an electronics and guided missile plant in Orlando under the name Martin Marietta. Nearly 60 years later, Lockheed Martin now holds the distinction of being Florida’s largest industrial employer. “Lockheed Martin has been in Florida for decades, and is one of the many companies that have found the state to be an ideal place to do business and develop new technologies and products,” St. John reflected. Overall, Lockheed Martin’s Florida team accounts for 10 percent of the corporation’s global workforce.

Finding Strength in Technology

Virtually every major aerospace and defense contractor has a presence in Florida, giving companies like Lockheed Martin access to a potent mix of workforce talent and industry expertise. Home to nearly 18,000 defense and homeland security companies and more than 2,100 dedicated to aviation and aerospace, Florida ranks first in the nation for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness and second for space and defense systems manufacturing. For Frank St. John, whose business area, Missiles and Fire Control, is responsible for advanced projects like the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, a precision targeting system for U.S. and international fighter jets, access to a broad, high-quality supplier base is one of Florida’s most crucial advantages. “Our Florida-based suppliers have a long record of work in the space and defense industries and know what it takes to meet the exacting quality standards we require,” St. John explained. Lockheed Martin has formed critical relationships with more than 1,600 suppliers within the state, spending approximately $5.5 billion in contracts each year.

Securing a Model Location

Thanks to Florida’s high concentration of military resources, several world-renowned defense clusters have emerged within the state. For instance, Orlando is home to one of the world’s largest simulation and training clusters, making it the ideal site for Lockheed Martin’s training and simulation business. Encompassing more than 100 companies, the cluster is anchored by key military and research institutions including the National Center for Simulation, the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training, the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, and the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division. As a result, Lockheed Martin continues to contribute to the synergistic benefits of this state-of-the art sector.

“Florida fosters collaborative environments with state and local entities and research centers—to share ideas, promote economic growth and improve educational opportunities,” St. John said. Best known for its F-35 training simulators, Lockheed Martin’s Orlando Mission Systems and Training facility underwent a recent expansion, adding new positions focused on training and logistical advancements for the F-35, F-16 and F-15 fighter jet programs. The corporation also recently unveiled its new Innovation Demonstration Center, which features 20,000 square-feet of immersive simulation demonstrations highlighting next-generation air, ground and maritime training and logistics capabilities for military and commercial airlines.

Lockheed Martin has been in Florida for decades, and is one of the many companies that have found the state to be an ideal place to do business and develop new technologies and products.

Frank St. John
Vice President, Lockheed Martin

Commanding Infrastructural Clout

Lockheed Martin’s ability to excel across specialties is largely due to Florida’s unique geographic features and strong infrastructure, which features two spaceports and more than 120 public-use airports. Home to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the state is a natural fit for the company’s Space Systems division. Lockheed Martin assembled and launched NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration capsule, which made its maiden test flight December 2014 from the Space Coast. Similarly, Lockheed Martin’s Riviera Beach facility has found a tactical niche along Florida’s eastern intercoastal waterway, which provides the unique opportunity to perform deepwater tests of its unmanned underwater vehicles close to shore. For any company, Florida’s extensive multi-modal infrastructure—ranked second in the nation by the U.S. Chamber Foundation—is an undeniable advantage. “Bordered by the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s geography makes it easily accessible for companies worldwide … and transportation is continually being enhanced to accommodate faster and easier travel,” St. John added. With 15 deepwater seaports and expansive networks of road and rail, few locations can compare to Florida’s connectivity and global access.

Deploying Incredible Talent

Ultimately, Lockheed Martin’s success in Florida would not have been possible without the workforce talent to develop and execute its ideas. Thanks to Florida’s high concentration of defense and aviation companies and universities, there is no shortage of first-class talent. In fact, more than 1.19 million private-sector jobs have been added in the last six years, causing the statewide unemployment rate to drop to 4.7 percent. As the state’s low-tax, business friendly climate continues to spark the ongoing investment of companies like Lockheed Martin, Florida is solidifying its position as a global destination for jobs.

Florida ranks first for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness and second for space and defense systems manufacturing.

Florida ranks first for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness and second for space and defense systems manufacturing.

Due to Florida’s large numbers of NASA personnel and former military, Lockheed Martin also benefits from a large talent pool that meets requirements for the Department of Defense and similar institutions. “Florida has a diverse, highly educated workforce and industry clusters of similar companies that provide ready access to the right labor pools, both in terms of quality and quantity,” St. John said. To secure talent for the future, Lockheed Martin has also established mutually beneficial relationships with Florida’s leading universities. From consulting on curricula to implementing innovative internships and co-op programs, the relationship between Florida’s educational system and its leading industries is readily apparent. “[We’ve] collaborated for many years to ensure that educational programs are relevant to industry needs and remain on the cutting edge of innovation.

Engineering Global Success

From aviation to defense to manufacturing, Florida offers bold strategic benefits to any business looking to expand its international reach. The success of an industry leader like Lockheed Martin helps tell the story of Florida’s pro-business climate and unmatched resources. The company has been creating innovative products for the global security and aerospace industry from Florida for decades, thanks to the state’s strong workforce, top-ranked infrastructure and unique global position. Innovative companies across all industries will find the tools they need to compete in the global marketplace right here in Florida.