Lockheed Martin seeks tax breaks for potential $1.6B expansion

Company may bring up to 3,000 jobs by 2042.

Lockheed Martin is seeking federal contracts that could result in a $1.6 billion expansion of its operations, potentially bringing between 500 and 3,000 jobs to Cobb County over the next 20 years.

Company officials on Tuesday briefed the Development Authority of Cobb County on their plans while requesting initial approval to negotiate potential property tax breaks on the project investments.

Details were scarce at the meeting because Lockheed Martin’s plans hinge on being awarded federal defense contracts. The development authority’s board approved the initial resolution 4-1 to authorize talks with the company.

Nelson Geter, the authority’s executive director, did not provide an estimate of how much the property tax incentives would be worth. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the incentives will be calculated in a fiscal impact study that he hopes will be available by mid-August. If approved, the tax breaks would be phased in over the next 20 years as the company’s expansion plans develop.

Rod McLean, a vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin in Marietta, said the company needs the property tax abatements to offer competitive bids against other companies in the industry.

“This goes back to reducing our costs, bringing new employees to the area to allow us to compete and win as the phases continue to evolve for this program opportunity,” McLean said.

When the development authority provides property tax breaks, companies are required to make payments in lieu of taxes so that the county and the school district don’t lose any revenue they already receive today. Typically, abatements last for 10 years and provide the company relief as taxes go up incrementally on the improvements made during construction.

Geter said this is the largest economic development effort the authority has ever been asked to facilitate.

McLean added that Lockheed Martin is working on and competing for several classified, long-term, high-tech programs and Air Force contracts.

“This is a multiple phase effort,” McLean said. “There is development, there is production, there is sustainment associated with this major program.”

Geter said he expects the board to vote on a final resolution by August or September.

AJC Staff Writer Brian Eason contributed to this report.