A welder at General Atomics welds a PCD cable drum component. The company employs some 300 workers at its facility in the Tupelo-Lee Industrial Park South, where they make the Navy’s next-generation EMALS catapult system for aircraft carriers.

SHANNON • For the 12th time in its 15-year history – and the fifth time since 2013 – in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South, General Atomics is expanding.

This one is the largest to date; the San Diego-based defense contractor is adding 125 workers in the $39.5 million expansion over the course of five years. Since 2018, the company has invested $70 million in the facility; that figure does not include the latest expansion.

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems is increasing its manufacturing capacity to accommodate the addition of three national security components/technologies manufacturing projects for the U.S. Dept. of Defense.

“This is an exciting day for Lee County and the state of Mississippi,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. “The addition of these critical manufacturing operations at General Atomics’ Shannon location demonstrates the fact that Mississippi’s skilled workforce is leading the nation, as our military relies heavily on the products made there to ensure their ability to protect our country and every single American. We are grateful to General Atomics for its continued growth and investment in Northeast Mississippi and look forward to growing our partnership to bring more jobs and investment to our great state.”

General Atomics’ latest expansion enables the company to increase its high-tech manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. The project includes the addition of 100,000 square feet of highly specialized manufacturing capabilities dedicated to supporting critical DoD programs.

“This expansion is a significant part of our ongoing efforts to create the most comprehensive Manufacturing Center of Excellence and Innovation in this region, where concepts and advanced technologies take shape and form the platforms integral to protecting our national security,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “We’ve installed the additional infrastructure, equipment, machining and production protocols and completed the critical security certifications necessary to accommodate the most sensitive and specialized manufacturing requirements. And we have an extremely skilled and experienced workforce to draw upon to ensure the components and systems we deliver to our war fighters are the highest quality and most reliable to meet their mission objectives now and into the future.”

Originally built to help test and assemble the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System for the U.S. Navy’s next generation of aircraft carriers, the General Atomics facility in Shannon has expanded its operations and capabilities, including the manufacturing of the advanced arresting system that helps land planes on a carrier, and equipment for other industries.

”Since 2005, General Atomics has been at the forefront of manufacturing some of the most technologically advanced components for the U.S. Navy and other military installations,” said MDA Interim Director John Rounsaville. “By continually investing in its Lee County operations and creating high-skilled jobs for the region’s workers, General Atomics contributes significantly to the growth of Northeast Mississippi’s economy and the region’s communities. This latest expansion is a result of public-private partnerships, like the one between MDA and the Community Development Foundation, working together to build more vibrant, stronger communities through economic development and job creation.”

The Mississippi Development Authority is providing a $1.75 million grant for the installation of cranes and $450,000 in MS Works Funds for workforce training. Lee County and the Tennessee Valley Authority also are providing assistance.

General Atomics currently has 300 employees in Lee County, and the projected number of new jobs represents a 58% increase in workers at the facility.

“I commend General Atomics for their continued investment and commitment to bring quality jobs to North Mississippi. We also thank the Mississippi Development Authority and Gov. Reeves for their support,” said CDF Chairman Tollie White.

“General Atomics, one of the world’s most innovative companies, continues to expand in Lee County ... and it’s because of the people in our workforce,” said Lee County Board of Supervisors President Tommie Lee Ivy. “It’s a true testament to the hard work and dedication of our local workforce.”

Twitter: @dennisseid

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