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Orlando Business Journal: E-warfare and robots: Harris Corp.’s $125M R&D investment will create high-wage jobs here

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

By   – Staff writer, Orlando Business Journal
Global aerospace and defense firm Harris Corp. largely has focused on communication services for the U.S. military, but now plans to diversify its services through a multimillion-dollar investment.

The Melbourne-based company (NYSE: HRS) on Dec. 10 announced plans to invest more than $125 million in internal research and development in Florida to focus on electronic warfare, robotics and small satellites. Most of the investment will be in Central Florida, where Harris Corp. is based.

The investment will lead to more high-wage jobs in Florida, paying an average annual salary of $95,000. How many jobs the investment will create was not disclosed, but Harris has about 375 job openings in Florida — many of them engineering positions.

“Our industry-leading R&D investment is good for our stakeholders and the state – advancing the company’s technical capabilities and bringing high-quality jobs to the area,” Bill Brown, chairman, president and CEO of Harris Corp., said in a prepared statement. “We strive to advance technology initiatives at all levels by supporting emerging technology today and the workforce of tomorrow.”

This type of investment is big for the state and region, because Harris — one of the largest public companies headquartered in Central Florida with 7,000 workers — works with hundreds of companies to fulfill the hundreds of contracts it lands every year. Harris does more than $250 million in business with 1,200 Florida suppliers annually.

This new R&D investment could be the start of more on the horizon, since Harris Corp. is merging with New York-based L3 Technologies Inc. — a deal valued at $33.5 billion that will create a new defense giant called L3 Harris Technologies Inc. with $16 billion in revenue, once it is finalized in mid-2019.

Meanwhile, Harris Corp. already is moving into the small satellite business. On Dec. 6, the company launched its first briefcase-sized satellite to space using India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. “HSAT’s successful launch and initial testing showcases our ability to design, build and operate a small, lightweight satellite that can be affordably launched as a ‘rideshare’ with other satellites on the same rocket,” said Bill Gattle, president of Harris Space and Intelligence Systems.

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