The rocket and missile propulsion company Aerojet Rocketdyne broke ground Oct. 24 for a new manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The new facility will be 136,000 square feet in size and will be in use by 2019. Construction is expected to begin within the next few weeks.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey attended the groundbreaking ceremony, along with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and other local representatives, according to WHNT.

“This is not only an exciting day for Aerojet Rocketdyne and the Huntsville area, but it’s an exciting day for the entire state of Alabama,” Ivey said in a speech. She thanked Aerojet CEO and President Eileen Drake for her “leadership” and decision to build in the state.

“To innovate is to bring about something new, and this new facility can certainly do that,” she said.

New jobs

The company said it would bring 800 new jobs to the area between its North American headquarters and its Rocket Shop defense advanced programs group. Also, the firm has leased an office of more than 100,000 square feet in Cummings Research Park, where approximately half new employees and half employees currently working at other locations will be placed.

The manufacturing facility will produce rocket engines, pieces of rocket motors, 3D printing technology, and other aerospace materials, as well as offer research facilities for scientists exploring rocket propulsion.

In a statement, Drake referred to Huntsville’s nickname, Rocket City, and said the company had had a 50-year relationship with the area, adding that Mayor Battle played a significant role in the company’s decision to invest in the Huntsville foundry.

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She said the city would be a “key aerospace and defense hub” in the United States thanks to the company’s investments in the area, according to Globe-News Wire.

Student potential

Drake also pointed out that students from the nearby University of Alabama Huntsville studying rocket science would make an excellent source of talent for Aerojet Rocketdyne, according to AL.com. Earlier this year, the firm also donated $1 million to UAH, creating the Aerojet Rocketdyne Chair in Space Science..

Huntsville District 1 Councilman Devyn Keith said the move was a “step in the right direction” for the city, according to WHNT, agreeing that the city could help the city attract more jobs and growth in the areas of aerodynamics and rocket research.