Last year a number of businesses in Vermont laid off workers or shut down operations because of the slowing economy. But the hard times haven’t affected General Dynamics in Burlington.
The company makes weapons systems for the government and employs 52 thousand people worldwide. Last year, General Dynamics’ Vermont workforce grew by almost twenty percent. It now stands at 500.
Clifford Bushey is a vice president with the company. Bushey says the growth isn’t the result of the war on terrorism. He says there were fewer weapons being made in the 1990s and the company had to find other things to do. It got away from manufacturing new weapons and into managing existing systems.
The shift has paid off and Bushey says the company expects to see modest growth in the next few years. Bushey says the defense industry doesn’t follow the same economic cycle as most businesses:
(Bushey) “We were suffering during the ’90s, while I think the commercial market was really expanding. So I think you could safely say that we paid our dues, if you will, during that time.”
(Host) Last month General Dynamics announced a $14 million weapons order had been awarded to the Burlington facility. Bushey says this is part of an existing government contract and won’t result in more jobs.
Bushey says for security reasons, the Department of Defense won’t let weapons manufacturers comment on orders for new weapons in the wake of September 11.