Region won't feel sting of BAE layoffs

Nashua’s largest employer, defense contractor BAE Systems, says there will be no layoffs in southern New Hampshire as part of a company-wide reorganization that becomes official Jan. 2. In fact, they’re hiring.

However, a handful of local executives will be transferred to Arlington, Va., the operating group’s new headquarters, spokesman Clark Dumont said.

This is good news in the wake of the company’s October announcement that it would be consolidating two of its three U.S. operating groups, including the one in Nashua, to create a more “lean” operation.

Like other defense firms across the nation, BAE is making business adjustments in anticipation of a decline in federal defense spending. Industry experts predict cuts under President-elect Barack Obama’s administration and amid the current economic turmoil.

“We’re at a point of change. An era of change,” Dumont said. “Engagement in Iraq is coming to some level of closure.”

BAE announced in October that it would unite its Nashua-based Electronic & Integrated Solutions with an Arlington, Va.-based group called Customer Solutions. The combined group will be known as Electronics, Intelligence & Support.

The president of the former Nashua segment, Mike Heffron, will lead the combined group and remain in Nashua. But the official headquarters will be in Arlington, not Nashua.

Under the reorganization, the company plans to focus more of its efforts on applying its military technologies to homeland security and commercial markets, Dumont said.

Earlier this year, BAE began testing a missile defense system for commercial aircraft in response terrorist threats.

Dumont said the technology the company uses to make city transit buses run cleaner can be used to produce power and clean water for remote villages.

The company will also focus more of its efforts on digital security products that help the government and commercial sectors detect and prevent computer hacking, he said.

And, recognizing that military equipment will probably be used longer in the coming years, BAE will pursue technologies to help extend the usable life of the equipment that now exists.

Although the company recently announced about 100 layoffs nationwide by year’s end, Dumont said BAE is continuing to hire in New Hampshire. In fact, the company is holding two job fairs in Nashua this week in an attempt to fill some 200 positions in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, he said.

The positions are primarily in engineering and manufacturing. The need for highly skilled workers with degrees in science, math and technology-related fields is almost constant, Dumont said.

“The demand exceeds the volume,” he said.

The first job fair, which takes place today at the company’s 65 Spit Brook Road facility from 4-8 p.m., is for people interested in engineering positions. The second, on Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. at the same facility, is geared toward manufacturing jobs.

Currently, BAE employs nearly 4,700 people in New Hampshire at facilities in Nashua, Hudson and Merrimack. The company is the sixth largest defense contractor in the nation.