Industries

NOVA’s major defense contractors plan rally against federal cuts

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires

Virginia-based aerospace and defense companies will join forces next week with elected officials in a show of support against $1.2 trillion in “sequestration” cuts expected to hit the U.S. military and other government operations in January.

Organizing and headlining Monday’s July 30 event will be some of Northern Virginia’s major defense companies. Randy Belote, vice president of strategic communications for Northrop Grumman Corp., said his company along with General Dynamics, SAIC, ITT Exelis, BAE Systems, ATK and Rolls Royce have been engaged in planning a Stop Sequestration Rally, which will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. in the ballroom of the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington.  The media is invited to the rally.

Belote says the group also has invited Gov. Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling along with other members of the Virginia congressional delegation.  Last week some of Virginia’s politicians tried to hold their own event, but division over the expected effects of the deep budget cuts resulted in McDonnell canceling a press conference with fellow Republicans in Washington, D.C., after several Democrats, including U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner and U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, pulled out of a bipartisan delegation meeting with the governor. 

Belote told Virginia Business that the failed meeting had nothing to do with the defense industry’s efforts, which were well underway before that.  “We’re working very hard to make sure that this doesn’t have the appearance of being a political rally. This is about business, and the budget impact this might have on business and on national security,” he said.

Representatives from the Aerospace Industries Association, which has held its own series of rallies, are expected to attend along with members of the National Defense Industrial Association. 

At stake are more than 1 million direct defense and aerospace jobs. According to a study by Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University, more than 122,000 direct industry jobs are at stake in Virginia.  “The implementation of sequestration as presently mandated could have a very serious negative impact on the economy of Virginia, on our industry and on the defense capacity of our nation,” Belote said in a press advisory about the rally.

“We thought we should work with other Virginia-based companies in the industry, not to talk about necessarily solutions, but to raise awareness of impact — the potential impacts on the work force, national security, the supplier base and small businesses.  And also perhaps the unintended consequences of attracting and retaining young and bright employees who have been schooled in the sciences,” Belote told Virginia Business.

“We expect to have a good cross section of business leaders as well as elected officials.”

 


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