County Comment: Commissioners Hear Local Company Success

County Comment
Commissioners Hear Local Company Success
by Norman Bassett, Public Information Officer
Washington County, Maryland

Despite national economic woes, a local business located at Hagerstown Regional; Airport is pumping more than $70 million into the local economy. The Washington County Board of County Commissioners heard that good news from Hal Lucas, Director of the Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) local facility, in the Commissioners' meeting held November 4th.
Sierra Nevada is a national company, with 25 locations in 13 states. The Integrated Missions Systems Division has been doing business at Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR) since 2005.
Lucas said the operation has grown from its initial 35 employees to 424 employees today, started in a single hangar and now occupies 5 hangars at HGR
Lucas told the Commissioners that the company's high paying high-tech jobs, with average salaries in the $60,000+ contribute $40 million to the area economy from wages, and pump an additional $30 million in purchased goods and services in the community.
Lucas cited SNC's ability to respond to change through a business model designed to thrive on today's strategic environment as a reason for its success.
The company modifies aircraft for the U.S. Government that is used in the war on terror in overseas locations, and is a prime contractor for systems integration. The facility can create, conceive, design, build, integrate, train, field and provide logistical support for t5hose systems that allow aircraft to effectively complete anti-terror missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Lucas called HGR's business-friendly environment a primary reason for its effectiveness in meeting the challenges imposed by military contracts. The pro-business environment makes Hagerstown an "easy sell" in recruiting professional personnel.
"As we're hiring executives and engineers and other folks, having them come here and see your county and then have them make a decision to come and work for us is actually not difficult", Lucas said.
Contracts include long-term maintenance on the systems, and that leads to a continuing presence in Washington County, Lucas said.
The County's ability to adapt to needs of SNC's growing business has also played a part in the company7's success, he said, citing the runway extension's allowing larger aircraft to land and take off, and airport management's encouraging business growth.
SNC has 100,000 square feet of hangar space and 45,000 square feet of office space in its five airfield sites.
"It is the capability of the airfield that has allowed us to bring the business in. It is the longer runway," Lucas said.
Lucas told the Commissioners that over the life of the SNC presence at HGR, the revenue and growth has been much larger than expected.
Board of County Commissioners meetings are now being streamed over the Internet in real-time video. Access the Commissioners' page at www.washco-md.net and look for the link to the stream.