Raytheon, Boeing HQs add to regional strength
What’s in a name? Perhaps a lot if you’re riding on the coattails of Boeing Co. and Raytheon Technologies Corp.
The May and June 2022 announcements that Fortune 100 contractors Boeing and Raytheon would move their corporate headquarters to Arlington County generated plenty of buzz, but they didn’t dazzle like the 2018 announcement of Amazon.com Inc.’s multibillion-dollar HQ2 East Coast headquarters coming to Arlington. That may be, at least in part, because the Boeing and Raytheon announcements didn’t come with similar headline-grabbing capital investment or job-creation figures.
What the headquarters moves did do, however, is instantly make Virginia the center of the defense contracting universe. With Boeing and Raytheon joining Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Dynamics Corp., Virginia is now home to four of the world’s five largest defense contractors and aerospace companies. (The largest, Lockheed Martin Corp., is based in nearby Bethesda, Maryland.)
The news also brought validation that the Washington, D.C., region is a marquee location for tech, aerospace, defense and adjacent industries.
“Anytime you get a major corporation locating your headquarters in town, that’s a bragging point. It seems to matter,” says Terry Clower, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. “I don’t have a formula that tells you what the economic value of that is, but it’s one that … it makes sense, because it’s deepening and broadening your corporate network infrastructure for the region.”
And Arlington economic development officials hope to build on these big headquarters wins.
“They’re kind of like the equivalent of the home run,” says Arlington Economic Development Director Ryan Touhill, who started in the role in November 2022, about the headquarters moves.
Neither Boeing, which was previously headquartered in Chicago, nor Raytheon, which called Waltham, Massachusetts, home, have discussed much about their moves publicly other than a desire to be located closer to government clients and industry partners.
Raytheon has about 130 corporate staffers in Rosslyn, a number that hasn’t increased, though the company has “slightly expanded its footprint,” says spokesperson Chris Johnson, who also cites the region’s multiple international airports as a factor for its move. And, while Raytheon CEO Gregory Hayes won’t be relocating to Virginia, Johnson has previously said Hayes is expected to spend a lot of time here.
Similarly, Boeing already had about 400 employees in Arlington’s Crystal City area, and its move didn’t involve any major job relocations. According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Boeing’s relocation brought 150 new jobs and $5 million in investment. Connor Greenwood, a company spokesperson, could not confirm the accuracy of those figures, nor did the company respond to questions about plans for a research and technology hub it pledged to establish with its move.
Nevertheless, home runs like these headquarters moves can help Arlington hit economic development singles, doubles and triples by helping the county draw smaller, emerging companies that “benefit from the things that the larger companies attract,” Touhill says, adding that the county is “seeing a good amount of aerospace interest.”
In the wake of Boeing and Raytheon’s announcements, Arlington economic development officials increased outreach to target companies and industries, says Michael Stiefvater, acting director of Arlington Economic Development’s Business Investment Group. “We’ve done a bit of a campaign to reach out to companies in the aerospace and defense industry following those announcements,” he says.
Along with positive publicity from the announcements, the county has heard “good things” in its communications with site selectors, brokers and companies, Stiefvater adds. While that hasn’t translated into immediate deals, he chalks that up to uncertainty in the post-pandemic office market environment.
The county has, however, received “quite a few” requests for proposals from consultants, “which is a nice change,” Stiefvater adds. “It was really quiet, basically since the beginning of the pandemic through this fall, in terms of corporate headquarters deals.”
Those RFPs haven’t yielded results the county can announce yet, but Stiefvater says they’re a signal that “we’re in competition.
“I’m imagining, you know, Boeing, Raytheon certainly probably played a role in catching people’s attention and hopefully got us on the short list or a final list.”