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Aerojet Rocketdyne, in pivot out of Northern California, opens Huntsville facility

Aerojet remembered: ‘It was a joy to work there’

Paul Ledwith, 81, who worked at Aerojet from 1962 to 1973, recalled cutbacks even amid the halcyon days of the space race with the Soviet Union.
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Paul Ledwith, 81, who worked at Aerojet from 1962 to 1973, recalled cutbacks even amid the halcyon days of the space race with the Soviet Union.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, once a mainstay in the greater Sacramento-area economy, unveiled a new rocket propulsion facility in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of a larger pivot toward the South and Midwest.

The 136,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility opened in Rocket City last week to begin production of solid rocket motor cases, missile hardware and other defense systems, according to an Aerojet news release.

“This is an exciting day for Aerojet Rocketdyne, the City of Huntsville and for the entire state of Alabama,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said in a prepared statement. “When a high-caliber company like Aerojet Rocketdyne locates a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in your state, it’s a powerful testament to the skill of your workforce and to the advantages you can offer to business. We’re thrilled to see this great company grow in Huntsville and make important contributions to the nation’s defense.”

Northern California, however, has been feeling the sting from Aerojet Rocketdyne’s long-form departure for years.

Although the company still has limited operations in Rancho Cordova – it employs about 450 in the city – manufacturing has been all but eliminated from the area.

In May 2016, Aerojet announced it was moving its corporate headquarters out of Rancho Cordova in favor of El Segundo, and a year later announced 1,100 local layoffs while adding 200 jobs in Mississippi.

In April, Aerojet said it would expand its 800-person workforce in Arkansas by about 100 employees in the next three years.

The company employed just 70 people in Huntsville just two years ago, but it now employs more than 400, according to the news release.

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