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Raytheon says it will move its headquarters to Arlington

It would be the latest aerospace giant to relocate to Northern Virginia, highlighting the importance of the company’s military business

Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems facility in Woburn, Mass., on June 10, 2019. (Elise Amendola/AP)
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Raytheon Technologies is moving its headquarters from Massachusetts to Arlington, Va., making it the latest aerospace giant to double down on its military business at a time of tremendous uncertainty for commercial aviation.

The company said that its new headquarters would help deepen its partnerships with the defense and intelligence agencies headquartered in Northern Virginia, according to a Tuesday news release. It also highlighted the region’s status as an airline hub.

“The location increases agility in supporting U.S. government and commercial aerospace customers and serves to reinforce partnerships that will progress innovative technologies to advance the industry,” the company said in an unsigned statement.

Raytheon becomes the last of the Big Five defense contractors — alongside Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and, most recently, Boeing — to commit its corporate identity to the D.C. suburbs.

Northern Virginia has long been the global epicenter of military business, but in recent years has branched out to attract a more diverse corporate clientele, including Amazon’s second headquarters. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Local officials were not involved in any discussions to attract Raytheon to the county, where the company’s intelligence and space arm is based. The company said in a news release that it did not seek financial incentives from any state or municipality to relocate the headquarters.

A company spokesperson told the Boston Globe that there would be “no reduction in the defense company’s Massachusetts workforce as a result of the move” and that “there would not be a net increase in employment in Arlington as a result.

“The spokesperson also noted that the “corporate address change” will take place between July and September and would only result in a “‘slight expansion’ of Raytheon’s existing leased space in Virginia,” according to the Globe.

Raytheon currently leases 116,000 square feet at an office building in the Rosslyn neighborhood.

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Raytheon has been headquartered in the Boston area since its founding in 1922. It became Raytheon Technologies in 2020, after it acquired the industrial technology conglomerate United Technologies in an all-stock deal worth roughly $74 billion.

The merger gave Raytheon a deep foothold in commercial aircraft; its subsidiaries make jet engines used in Boeing and Airbus commercial jets, as well as a grab-bag of airplane parts, including rudders, landing gear, wing flaps and doors.

That year, the coronavirus pandemic took hold, throwing the company and the broader economy into crisis. Numerous countries halted travel in an attempt to contain the virus, prompting many carriers to hold off on major purchases of new aircraft.

Commercial jet manufacturers saw demand for new airplanes fall through the floor, and the economic pain filtered through to suppliers like Raytheon. The company laid off thousands of employees amid steep declines in its sales.

Coronavirus opens a stark divide in America’s aerospace industry

The company’s business has since returned as part of what chief executive Greg Hayes called a “strong commercial aerospace recovery,” with sales rising 3 percent in the first quarter to $15.7 billion.

The company’s military business fell 12 percent in the most recent quarter after the Defense Department bought fewer F-35 fighter jets. Still, Hayes said in an April 26 call with investors that he believes Raytheon is well-positioned to benefit from growing defense budgets in the United States and elsewhere.

“We were seeing an increase in defense spending before any of this nonsense in Ukraine with the Russians,” Hayes told investors.

“So, I think, again, the trajectory is better than what we had expected,” he said. “I mean, I would go back two years, when the merger first occurred, we thought defense spending was going to be flat to up slightly. And I think everybody recognizes the need for modernization and the need to prepare for — to deter these folks in a more robust fashion.”

Raytheon shares closed Tuesday at $100.51, up 3.4 percent. It has a market value of $149.5 billion.

The announcement comes just weeks after Boeing said it would shift its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, concentrating the five dominant players of the $697 billion industry in suburban Washington. Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest defense contractor, is based in Bethesda, Md., while Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics are headquartered in Falls Church and Reston in Virginia, respectively.

All of them have long had significant operations in the D.C. area. Raytheon’s intelligence and space business is in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood, which will also be the site of the new headquarters.

Raytheon’s move — much like Boeing’s arrival — may be little more than a change in address for either company. But Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol (D) said they illustrate the county’s growing reputation as a hub for technology and the defense and aerospace industries.

“The reputational endorsement of Rosslyn as a great place to do business, and of the region as a great place to recruit talent, is something we really welcome, even if it doesn’t come with many new floors of an office building being occupied,” she said Tuesday.

With the two new additions, Arlington County will house the global headquarters of six Fortune 1000 corporations: the electric power distribution company AES, the real estate investment trust AvalonBay, and the holding company Graham Holdings, which previously owned The Washington Post.

Most notably, Amazon is building a second headquarters for 25,000 new employees in the district that local officials have dubbed “National Landing,” just three miles from Raytheon’s existing offices in Rosslyn. That massive complex is just a stone’s throw from the Pentagon and from Boeing’s new headquarters in an area that has drawn plenty of economic development buzz in recent years.

Boeing’s move to Arlington pushes ‘tech hub’ vision closer to reality

Cristol was quick to point out that Raytheon’s existing offices are located in North Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, which has traditionally served as the economic engine for this affluent and highly educated community.

“We are really celebrating investments in a growing technology and innovation economy in Arlington,” she said.

Raytheon’s move and any expansion may also help address the area’s high office vacancy rate, a chronic issue for Arlington. Unlike many of its more heavily suburban neighbors, the county depends on commercial office space for about half of its property tax revenue, although that figure has been dropping as some office buildings have emptied out during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than offering hefty economic incentives such as tax breaks or cash grants, Virginia has instead focused on attracting companies to the commonwealth by growing and diversifying the state’s tech workforce.

The state’s billion-dollar Tech Talent Investment Program has set a goal of producing an additional 25,000 new graduates in computer science and related fields over two decades. The bulk of Virginia funds are going to Virginia Tech’s new graduate engineering campus in nearby Alexandria, as well as a 345,000-square-foot tech hub that George Mason University is building in Arlington’s Virginia Square neighborhood, just down the road from Raytheon’s existing offices.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) commended Raytheon’s leadership and its mission to “build a safer, more connected world.”

“With four of the top five major U.S. aerospace and defense leaders now based in Virginia, this decision to headquarter in Arlington demonstrates that the Commonwealth is the best destination for the aerospace and defense community,” Youngkin wrote in a statement released by his office.