Elgin_Monday was a landmark day for the City of Elgin as BAE Systems opened the doors on its first facility in the Fort Sill Industrial Park. Oklahoma and Elgin officials, along with U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe gathered as the contracting firm completed the first stage of its plan to bring the Non-Line of Site Cannon (NLOS) to southwest Oklahoma. The revolutionary self-propelled howitzer eventually will be assembled and completed at a new plant in Elgin.
The facility's opening is great news for Elgin. Although there are only five employees at the facility, when the second plant is finished - in one year's time - it will bring more than 100 jobs to the area.
The NLOS cannon is the primary product of BAE Systems, Elgin Operations, and is now open for business. Elgin Mayor Larry Thoma said it was a long time coming - more than ten years. However, the opening of the facility is the first step in bringing a lot of new work to Elgin. "It's been a long road, and a lot of folks have doubted whether we were going to get here or not," said BAE Vice President of Army Programs Mark Signorelli . "The community didn't really believe it was coming - they had heard that before," said BAE's Supervisor of Elgin Operations Randy Ruth.
On Monday, local, state, and federal officials gathered to open the doors in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. "This 10,000 square foot building, which is the initial footprint of what the company intends to have here in this community, is a signal that the NLOS cannon is right around the corner for being assembled right here in Elgin, Oklahoma," said Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins.
The facility builds subsystems to be installed in the cannon at a separate plant, but soon it will all be done in Elgin. Ruth says he's proud of the work they will be doing there. "...to be able to provide those systems to the soldier so they can do the things they need to do abroad," he said.
Askins says it is the first step to putting Elgin on the map. "Other industries will see how strong the community is, how wide-reaching the area is in terms of the work force, and that they will be willing and looking forward to opportunities to move into this industrial park as well," she said. She said she cannot wait to see the first completed NLOS weapon from Elgin. "It's going to be an awesome visual when that first cannon rolls off the line," she said.
BAE Systems breaks ground on the next addition - a 150,000 square-foot facility - in the next few weeks. They say it will be completed in 2009. BAE Systems, Elgin Operations, says it will produce 18 NLOS cannon vehicles over the next two years after the plant's construction is complete.
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