With the recent announcement of aerospace giant Boeing’s move to Northern Virginia, Raytheon could have been among the top five defense contractors if it had kept its headquarters here. However, Raytheon remains one of the largest employers in Massachusetts, with an estimated 15,000 workers across facilities in Andover, Tewksbury and other Boston suburb locations. The company posted revenues of $64 billion last year, and a global workforce of 174,000 people.
“It’s always a problem to lose headquarters. That’s where the company’s center of strength is,” said John Reagan, CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, of which Raytheon is a long-time member. . . The intent is to maintain a strong presence in Massachusetts and keep the number of people high. From this perspective, I think it’s okay. We hope that they will be able to maintain this commitment in the future.”
But Raytheon’s move is already raising questions about the long-term impact on charitable giving, civic engagement and facility investment decisions. However, it can be difficult to measure the greatest impact.
“There are site-branding implications when a country loses a Fortune 500 headquarters,” said John Boyd, an expert selection site based in Boca Raton, Florida. “The fact is that Northern Virginia has become the center of gravity for the country’s defense and aerospace industries.”
Raytheon’s spokesman, Chris Johnson, said the move to Arlington would happen before the end of September, and would result in a “slight expansion” of the current Raytheon office, near the Pentagon. Johnson added that the company will maintain its office in Waltham, and does not expect a net increase in hiring in Virginia as a result.
Raytheon’s move follows Boeing’s announcement in May that it will move the company’s headquarters from Chicago to its office in Arlington, Virginia Industry rivals General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman are already in the capital’s suburbs, with all but Lockheed Martin in Northern Virginia.
“You could say that’s kind of inevitable,” said Lauren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank that receives funding from Raytheon and other contractors. “It’s kind of sad, because Raytheon started across the street from MIT where Necco candy is [factory] I was. What happens is, when your main competitors get close to your main customer, you have to follow them to stay competitive.”
Raytheon said it was taking a step to increase its “agility in support of commercial space customers and the US government” and “strengthen partnerships” to develop innovative technologies for the aerospace industry. Raytheon also noted that each of its four business units — Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Intelligence & Space, and Missiles & Defense — have Virginia operations. The company said it did not accept or request any government incentives for the move.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin bragged about Raytheon’s move on Tuesday, saying this “decision to take headquarters in Arlington shows that the Commonwealth [of Virginia] It is the best destination for the defense and aerospace community.”
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has played down the local influence here, saying Raytheon is simply keeping pace with its competitors. He told a reporter that the company informed him of this step shortly before the announcement and made it clear that there would be no loss of local jobs.
“I don’t think it will have any impact on their growth or continued involvement here,” Baker said. “They have some very deep roots here, and some very important and specialized software, which would be really hard to get them moving in the first place.”
Raytheon got its start in 1922, in Cambridge, as an American Appliance Co. , though it soon shifted its focus to electronics and became one of the first major technology companies in Massachusetts. It was the leading manufacturer of a microwave-generating electron tube known as a magnetron, which the US military used to improve radar detection of enemy aircraft in World War II. This work led to the company’s marketing of the microwave oven. Raytheon also contributed to Route 128’s reputation as “America’s tech highway” during the trail’s heyday.
By the time of its 2020 merger with UTC, Raytheon had become known for its rocket and satellite systems, while UTC was spinning the Otis elevator and the carrier’s cooling and heating sections to focus on space. Today, Raytheon employs thousands of people at several Pratt & Whitney facilities in Connecticut, and maintains a major “Integrated Defense Systems” site in Portsmouth, RI, where nearly 1,000 people worked before the pandemic began.
Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, said he was not concerned that Raytheon’s move would be seen as a criticism of Massachusetts tax policies.
“I won’t read anything in it,” said Anderson, who is among business leaders fighting a proposed tax on high-income earners to be voted on this year. “It is unfortunate that a company like Raytheon loses its headquarters, a star, but the economic impact is very small.”
Anderson likened the decision to move General Electric’s headquarters from Connecticut to Massachusetts in 2016, which ultimately created just about 200 jobs in Boston. With Raytheon’s departure, GE will become the largest defense contractor headquartered in Massachusetts, with military work including manufacturing aircraft and helicopter engines at a sprawling plant in Lynn.
Joseph Donovan, a local defense lobby member at law firm Nelson Mullins, said Massachusetts officials should grow the next generation of defense firms, in part by investing in workforce development and private sector partnerships with local universities.
“Raytheon’s legacy and history are in Massachusetts,” Donovan said. “Most importantly, we need to focus on growth and innovation strategies to grow Raytheon’s next in Massachusetts.”
Globe staff member Kathryn Carlock contributed to this report.
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