Tactronics Grows Southeast's Defense Economy

As America's military has become more technologically sophisticated, growth opportunities have emerged for defense suppliers such as Tactronics. The trend also will now have a positive economic impact on Robeson County, which is the site of a recent expansion by Tactronics, a Westhampton, N.Y.-based provider of integrated communication systems and components to the U.S. Army and other defense organizations. The November announcement by Tactronics will add 50 or more jobs to the region's defense-supply cluster over the coming two years.

Tactronics purchased a 70,000 sq.-ft. building adjacent the Lumberton Airport that previously housed an apparel manufacturing plant. Privately-held Tactronics has relocated production of its durable, waterproof cables to the Lumberton site, operations that formerly took place at its Long Island headquarters. "We're looking at another 25,000 to 30,000 square-foot expansion on the back side of the building," says John Forsberg, vice president for combat operations at Tactronics. The building offered the specifications the company was seeking, and was available at an attractive price. Better still, it is just minutes from Fort Bragg, and the site's convenience to the Lumberton Airport also appealed to company executives. "We have a company plane, and liked the ability to get our people down here and back to New York inside of a day," Mr. Forsberg explains.

The need for additional space led Mr. Forsberg to North Carolina's Southeast's extensive Web-based building and site inventory. In addition to the property's specs and details about the surrounding community, the listing contained a "virtual tour" of the vacant building. From there, he contacted NCSE marketing manager Steve Yost, who introduced him to local officials in Robeson County. "The Southeast Commission's building and site database is the unsung hero of the region's marketing program," explains Greg Cummings, director of the Robeson County Office of Economic Development. "We've worked hard to make the Southeast's Web site one of the world's best economic development tools, and those efforts are certainly paying off," says Mr. Cummings.

By mid-January, the company's Lumberton site employed a workforce of 18 that included electricians, fabricators, welders and machinists. But the figure could grow quickly and significantly as Tactronics' government buyers place new orders. "It could grow to 50 quite easily," says Mr. Forsberg. "We've got a lot on our plate, and I don't see it letting up anytime soon."