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CAMDEN, Ark. — A large solid rocket motor manufacturing facility recently began operations in southern Arkansas. Aerojet Rocketdyne's new facility represents the company's investment in modernization and innovation, as well as a continued company expansion in the region.

"The Engineering, Manufacturing and Development facility is the newest, state-of-the-art large solid rocket motor manufacturing facility in the nation and we look forward to expanding our decades-long solid rocket motor production capability in Camden," said Eileen P. Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president.

"Thanks in large part to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and our partners in the great state of Arkansas, Camden is poised to become a major center of large solid rocket motor production."

The ability to produce large solid rocket motors positions the company to contribute to next generation national security efforts, such as strategic deterrence, hypersonics and missile defense.

The new facility will open up a series of jobs as well as represent a boost in the regional economy for Arkansas, according to Eileen M. Lainez, Aerojet Rocketdyne's director of communications.

"Across our site, we've increased our workforce in Southern Arkansas by 50% over the past four years and we continue to grow," she said.

"We have a variety of well-paying jobs available in areas ranging from production operators, quality inspectors, technicians, engineers, and management positions. In addition to current needs our continued growth provides ongoing opportunities to join a leader in the aerospace and defense industry."

"The new Engineering, Manufacturing Development building was designed to provide more affordable large solid rocket motors for GBSD and other defense programs, using modern and efficient manufacturing methods. The GBSD program is expected to result in approximately 100 new Aerojet Rocketdyne jobs in Camden," she said.

"For 40 years, the men and women of Aerojet Rocketdyne in Arkansas have developed and produced important defense products and capabilities that have helped protect our warfighters, our nation, and our allies. We partner with more than 250 Arkansas businesses, and since 2014, have sourced more than $151 million dollars to Arkansas suppliers."

"The aerospace and defense industry has a significant impact on Arkansas' economy and Aerojet Rocketdyne has been a vital part of that success for many years," Gov. Hutchinson said.

"The company has demonstrated unwavering dedication to both the workforce and community in Calhoun County, and I am delighted to see our partnership continue as the company expands operations in Camden."

"Arkansas is playing an increasingly important role in the production of advanced national defense technologies and tools," Sen. John Boozman said. "This facility represents the next step in that evolution, and our state is proud to partner with Aerojet Rocketdyne so that its operations in Camden are equipped to meet the company's needs for a business-friendly environment and skilled workforce capable of helping ensure the readiness, effectiveness and safety of our troops. Arkansas' rich military history and tradition is only further enhanced with this expansion and we're excited for what's to come."

Rep. Bruce Westerman said, "Aerojet Rocketdyne's investment in Camden is solidifying the area as a major player in the defense industry, not to mention bringing dozens more jobs to the community. I'm glad to support their work in the 4th District and look forward to seeing this new rocket motor facility begin operating."

Construction of the 17,000-square-foot EMD facility began last spring in Camden, where the company has long had a presence. It was made possible with support from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Calhoun County and the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development.

Aerojet Rocketdyne's growth in Camden was driven by a companywide consolidation and modernization initiative that began in 2015.

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(Gazette reporter Junius Stone contributed to this report.)

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