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Go West, Young Job-Seekers

Photonics Spectra
Feb 1997
Daniel J. Dufresne

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- A $2 billion gravy train is winding its way from Washington, D.C., to this aptly named California town, and Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space says there's room for 3000 more wagons. When added to as many as 1500 new high-tech engineering and manufacturing jobs on the way to the $1.2 billion National Ignition Facility project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California's Bay Area may be looking at the Great Laser Rush of '97.
Lockheed Martin announced last November that more than $2 billion in long-term Air Force contracts awarded last year to develop laser and infrared imaging technology created more than 1000 new job openings in Sunnyvale, with another 2000 opening up over the next three years. The company says the job openings will be in software, electrical and systems engineering and in other technical and engineering fields.
Missiles & Space received a $1.8 billion contract in November 1996 to build the Air Force's Space-Based Infrared Sensor System and was part of an aerospace industry team headed by Boeing that was awarded $1.1 billion in November to build an airborne laser system. In addition to the lucrative new projects, Lockheed Martin is also consolidating its East Coast satellite manufacturing into a $65 million facility at its giant Sunnyvale "campus."
Meanwhile, as critics decry the Cold War legacy embodied in the National Ignition Facility's nuclear weapons testing function, proponents point to projections of cold cash entering the Bay Area economy and rosily speculate about the ripple effects of spinoff technology through national industry. Estimates range from 890 to 1500 permanent Bay Area jobs associated with the facility pumping in at least $30 million annually, as well as 2800 temporary construction jobs in the area between now and 2002.

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