BAE Systems breaks ground on new Cedar Rapids facility

This rendering from OPN Architects shows the new BAE Systems facility to be built at 7825 Sixth St. SW in Cedar Rapids

BAE Systems was already positioning for potential new growth as it broke ground Thursday on a new $100 million-plus state-of-the-art aerospace and defense facility development project in Cedar Rapids.

The UK-headquartered company, which acquired Collins Aerospace’s former military GPS business in January for just over $1.9 billion, unveiled a rendering and new details about its 278,000-square-foot build-to-suit factory and research and development center that will bring about 700 former Collins Aerospace workers now at locations in Coralville and Cedar Rapids under the same roof. Collins Aerospace had to divest its GPS business so parent company, United Technologies, could complete its merger with Raytheon Corp.

The campus, set on a 32-acre site at 7825 Sixth St. SW in Cedar Rapids, will include a large factory, several hundred offices, workstations, and flexible workspaces, as well as classified and unclassified labs.

But Jason Casciotti, BAE’s navigation and sensor systems integration lead, highlighted that the building was designed for growth, with the ability to add 50,000 square feet of additional space in the future. The project will include 900 parking spots, which will also accommodate new growth.

“We’re very excited about making a long-term commitment to this navigation and sensor system business in Cedar Rapids,” said Mr. Casciotti, adding that in addition to uniting employees into a single modern facility with manufacturing, engineering and office space, the location “enables us to scale up to meet customer demand.”

Mr. Casciotti said BAE is already doing some targeted hiring, pushing its workforce above the 700 mark “and we will continue to rightsize the business increases.”

The facility is set for completion sometime in 2022. It was designed by OPN Architects and will be developed and built by Ryan Companies US.

The project was helped by the Cedar Rapids City Council and Iowa Economic Development Authority, which approved $25.8 million in tax incentives for BAE to locate in the area.

“We’re excited that BAE Systems has chosen to locate its new facility in Cedar Rapids and look forward to working with them on the project,” said Mayor Brad Hart. “By committing to build their new campus here, BAE Systems is advancing Cedar Rapids as a high-tech aerospace and defense hub, providing high-quality jobs and business opportunities, and initiating one of the largest capital investment projects in city history.”