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Northrop Grumman decides to move headquarters to Northern Virginia

As outlined by Wes Bush, president and chief executive of Northrop Grumman, the move to the Washington area would bring a staff of about 300 from its current headquarters in California.
As outlined by Wes Bush, president and chief executive of Northrop Grumman, the move to the Washington area would bring a staff of about 300 from its current headquarters in California. (AP)

Northrop Grumman's unusually public offer to move to the region sparked criticism from some local officials who said the company was asking for too much.

Fairfax County officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the closed-door negotiations were private, said Northrop sought, among other things, money to help cover the moving costs of its employees and pay for country club memberships. It also sought the use of discounted county hangar space at Dulles International Airport for its corporate jet, sources said. It's not clear if any money for those purposes is forthcoming.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said that the county does not routinely offer cash incentives or tax breaks for a corporate relocation. It is more common to see the county offer money in the form of infrastructure improvements, such as improved access roads.

"We like to pursue projects that offer tangible benefits to the public," Bulova said.

A state official familiar with the deal said that Virginia's economic development officials were frustrated that Fairfax officials did not offer cash incentives. State officials said that if the company had chosen another location, Fairfax officials would have had only themselves to blame.

Some real estate brokers close to the deal and a Fairfax government source said they expect Northrop to pick a spot at the Fairview Park office complex in Fairfax because it is close to facilities the company already has in Tysons Corner, Rosslyn and other locations.

Northrop had considered other sites. In the District, it looked at lots at Fourth and E streets SW and Sixth and E streets SW, near Nationals Park. It also considered a planned office building on North Glebe Road in Arlington's Ballston corridor and a location on Gaither Road in Rockville.

In a statement late Monday, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) congratulated Virginia for landing Northrop, calling it a "win for the entire greater Washington region." He added: "With today's announcement the region will not only gain new corporate-level jobs, but a number of the company's key subcontractors and suppliers."

Bush telephoned O'Malley on Monday evening and "expressed his disappointment" that news of the company's decision "leaked out the way it did," said O'Malley's communications director, Rick Abbruzzese.

According to Abbruzzese, Bush told O'Malley that they "had been impressed with Maryland's package of incentives but were making what amounted to a real estate decision."

Staff writers Derek Kravitz, Jonathan O'Connell, Aaron Davis, Anita Kumar and John Wagner contributed to this report.


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