By Kafia A. Hosh
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Loudoun County officials hailed last week's announcement by Raytheon that it is moving hundreds of employees to Loudoun, saying that the company's presence will stimulate the local economy and could draw similar businesses to the area.
Raytheon, the world's fifth-largest defense contractor, said it is moving its Northern Virginia operations into 600,000 square feet of office space at AOL's Pacific Corporate Park in Dulles. More than 1,500 employees from Raytheon's Falls Church, Reston and Herndon sites will relocate next spring. The company also expects to create 100 full-time jobs at the campus over the next three years.
Raytheon's decision "is validation that Loudoun is a place that corporations need to take seriously if they're looking for Washington, D.C., presence," said Steve Hargan, the county's business development manager.
County officials said the move will benefit the local economy in several ways. Raytheon will be another business on Loudoun's tax rolls, and its workforce will spend money shopping and dining in the county.
Scott K. York (I), chairman of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, said the space Raytheon will lease from AOL in four buildings represents about 30 percent of the vacant high-end office space in the county.
"That is huge," he said, adding that Raytheon's lease will help stabilize the commercial real estate market.
Raytheon will spend about $37.5 million on the move, which will include security upgrades to the buildings.
Loudoun beat out sites in Maryland and the District in the race to attract Raytheon. County officials said they hope the company's presence will prompt other government contractors, large and small, to come to Loudoun.
"They like to be near each other," said Supervisor Lori L. Waters (R-Broad Run). "Having more of them here signals to others that this is the place to be."
From Raytheon's standpoint, the move fulfills the contractor's need to occupy a modern facility with room for expansion, said Keith Little, a spokesman for the Massachusetts-based company.
It also creates a common location for employees that "provides an opportunity for greater Raytheon teamwork, collaboration and innovative thinking," said Tom Culligan, a vice president of the company.
Little noted that the AOL campus, at Route 28 and Waxpool Road, is near the Dulles Toll Road, making it "a pretty easy commute" for the regional workforce.
Raytheon has signed a 10-year agreement to lease the office space from AOL. The buildings will house portions of Raytheon's technical services company and its information systems business unit.
AOL now occupies the buildings, which are on the east side of the campus. But the company plans to move out of that space and unite its departments on the campus's west side, AOL spokeswoman Allie Burns said.
With Raytheon's move, "we saw the opportunity to consolidate everyone into a closer proximity and take advantage of the vacant space that we have," Burns said.
AOL has about 2,500 employees at the Dulles campus, down from a peak of more than 5,000 in the area.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Loudoun in the effort to lure Raytheon, and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) approved a $500,000 state grant for improvements to public infrastructure in the Route 28 corridor.
Raytheon employs more than 4,000 people in Virginia and 73,000 people worldwide. The company reported $23.2 billion in sales last year.