The L3 Technologies plant in Waco has suffered four rounds of layoffs the past four years, but it still employs about 1,300 people and is seeking state money for facility upgrades it says will support 500 existing jobs.
The Waco City Council has agreed to support L3’s pursuit of state Enterprise Zone Program money through the Office of the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Division. L3 could qualify for sales tax rebates of up to $1.25 million on facility and equipment upgrades valued at about $5.5 million, according to information provided by the city of Waco.
A Texas Enterprise Zone designation, and the money that goes with it, would make the facility more competitive in pursuing military and private aircraft-modification contracts and help it retain and grow its current employment level of about 1,300 people, L3 spokesman Lance Martin wrote in a statement. Employment has dropped in recent years from a peak of about 1,800 people.
The capital improvements would support at least 500 existing jobs at the Waco facility, the maximum the state program provides tax incentives for, Martin said.
Shifts in employment levels are nothing new to the Waco operation. When L3 bought the plant from Raytheon in 2002, the number of staffers had declined from 1,900 to 1,500. Rounds of layoffs in 2014 and 2015 were related to reduced military spending, company officials said at the time.
The Aerospace Systems unit that includes the Waco plant has not performed as well as the Electronic, Communications and Sensor units in recent years, with the company reporting during a recent shareholder meeting that Aerospace likely will enjoy profit margins of 8.1 percent next year, the lowest among the four units, on $2.7 billion in sales.
Companies approved for state Enterprise Zone Program money on capital projects valued between $5 million and $150 million can claim up to 500 jobs and receive up to $2,500 per position, according to the Governor’s Economic Development Finance department website.
Based in New York, L3 operates three facilities in Texas, in Waco, Greenville and Rockwall, and employs 8,204 people statewide, according to information provided by the city of Waco.