Defense Contractors Land in South Burlington For VT Chamber's Open House | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Defense Contractors Land in South Burlington For VT Chamber's Open House


Published June 14, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.

Funny how the name Lockheed Martin seems to be popping up in Vermont with ever-increasing frequency these days: The Kiss administration's ongoing courtship of Lockheed Martin in its "Carbon War Room" initiative. The Lockheed-run Sandia National Laboratories' involvement in Vermont's ongoing smart-grid deployment. The U.S. Air Force's choice of South Burlington as one of its two preferred locations for "bedding" its next-generation strike fighters, the F-35, which are designed and built by Lockheed Martin. It's starting to feel as though the Green Mountain State itself is a wholly-run subsidiary of the world's largest defense contractor.

In town this week from Forth Worth,Texas is Tom Matney, Lockheed's senior manager for F-35 "major contracts" — Is there any other kind? — who's coming to South Burlington for the Vermont Chamber's Aerospace and Aviation Association's quarterly open house. The event, scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, from 3 to 5:30 PM, at Heritage Aviation in South Burlington, is meant to bring together Vermont's aerospace, aviation and other defense-related businesses. And yes, it's free and open to the public.

But Lockheed won't be the only belle at the ball. In addition to local honored guests such as Vermont Deputy Secretary of Commerce Patricia Moulton Powden, former Lite Guv and current VIAA Chair Brian Dubie, and Ted Brady of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy's staff — Leahy is the honorary chair of VIAA — other scheduled speakers include corporate execs from QinetiQ North America, Raytheon Company and Rockwell Collins. All are major defense contractors in the aerospace industry.

Says Chris Carrigan, the Vermont Chamber's VP for business development, Wednesday's open house is all about "jobs, jobs jobs.

"We’re looking at over 1000 military and civilian jobs with the Vermont Air National Guard representing over a $54 million payroll," Carrigan says, "which generates and drives economic activity, not only around Chittenden County but all over Vermont."

This week's theme, according to Carrigan: sensors, electronics, robotics and sourcing and supply-chain opportunities for Vermont companies. However, the public shouldn't expect to see any robotic waiters serving martinis or demonstrations of predator drones taking out local peaceniks. This event will be more about pressing flesh than pushing G's.

Why We Fight indeed.