Thales Group, a French multinational aerospace and defense company with an operation in Melbourne, announced Monday plans to hire 327 new employees in Brevard County and 173 in Orlando.
The Melbourne expansion also includes Thales moving from its current location at 700 Babcock Street in Melbourne to 1110 W Hibiscus Ave., the building previously occupied by DRS Tactical Systems. Both properties are owned by the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport. The company’s InFlyt sector currently in Florida breaks down currently to 240 in Melbourne and 190 in Orlando.
Thales’ local operation is next to the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport. Its engineers mostly design entertainment and Internet wireless systems for commercial aircraft. Formerly LiveTV – a Harris Corp. spinoff that was later purchased by JetBlue – Thales acquired the company in March 2014.
Maintenance and installation of the systems are mostly done at Thales operation at the Orlando International Airport.
Thales – pronounced “tal is” – promises to commit more than than $20 million in capital investment in Florida for the expansion, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.
Known for the past several months as “Project Marathon,” the new Thales jobs are expected to pay an average of $64,356. The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast estimates those jobs would lead to 370 spinoff jobs. In its application for incentives, Thales said it also considered California for its expansion.
The incentives for Thales will total $1.38 million, spread over 10 years, and the company would pay $2.06 million in new local taxes during that period.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott made the Thales expansion announcement while attending the Farnborough Air Show in England.
“We met with Thales at the Paris Air Show last year and it’s great to make this exciting announcement today in London,” Scott said. “I look forward to seeing their continued success in our state.”
Thales has 21 sites across the United States, involving everything from defense to avionics to aircraft entertainment and wireless systems. In Florida, its operations, outside of Melbourne, are in Orlando, Plantation and Tampa.
The news adds to Brevard’s boastful portfolio of high-tech companies clustered in aerospace and aviation. In the last year, recent announcements have included the opening of Embraer Executive Jets Legacy assembly jet facility and Northrop Grumman Corp.’s award of the $80 billion contract by the U.S. Air Force to build the Long-Range Strike Bomber. Much of the software and design work for the aircraft will take place at Northrop Grumman’s expanding campus in Melbourne, less than a mile from where Thales is expanding.
“We are pleased that Thales chose Melbourne,” said Melbourne Mayor Kathy Meehan, who also serves on the board of the Melbourne Airport Authority.
“This expansion adds to the city of Melbourne’s aviation-aerospace cluster and shows our commitment to sustainable economic development,” she said.
The governor’s office said Florida is home to more than 2,000 aerospace and aviation companies employing nearly 80,000 workers, and has long been a major hub for flight training and maintenance repair operations. Florida is the No. 2 state in aviation, aerospace and space establishments, and its industry assets include 22 airports with runways of 10,000-plus feet and a full range of industry activities.