TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Southern Arizona is home to some of the world's top defense and aerospace companies. One of them will soon be expanding, adding to their workforce and boosting the Oro Valley economy.
"Tucson is considered Optics Valley," said Prabhu Thiagarajan, Leonardo Electronics Sr. V. P.
Leonardo Electronics has a manufacturing facility in Marana and is a subsidiary of Italian aerospace and defense giant, Leonardo.
The Tucson operation makes semiconductor laser components with a workforce of about 200.
But Leonardo Electronics has outgrown its current building. It recently announced plans for a new laser manufacturing plant in Oro Valley.
"This is an exciting project for us," Thiagarajan said during an interview with KGUN 9.
That project starts with a $100 million investment in a 120,000 square foot plant in the new Innovation Park area of Oro Valley.
Plenty of high paying jobs will come along with the expansion.
"We will be pretty much doubling our workforce adding another 170 jobs," according to Thiagarajan.
According to Sun Corridor Inc., Leonardo's expansion will result in $374 million in economic impact for the region over the next ten years.
Thiagarajan says one of the reasons Leonardo wants to stay in the Tucson area is because of the U of A's Wyant College of Optical Sciences, which provides a strong workforce.
He says they chose the Oro Valley location because of the current employee base and because other high-tech companies have also relocated to Innovation Park.
"We're going to be laying roots down in Oro Valley for a very long time and a pretty significant investment," said Thiagarajan.
He says they will break ground next year, with an 18-month build time.
The new Leonardo Electronics facility should be operational by 2024.
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