Defense contractor to receive $25 million in local, state aid
Will build new facility in Falls, move 449 jobs there

By Brandon Anderegg

Dec. 5, 2018

MENOMONEE FALLS — Defense contractor Leonardo DRS Inc. will build a $56 million naval power manufacturing complex in Menomonee Falls with access to $25 million in state and local aid, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced Monday.

The company has plans to leave its current location at 4265 N. 30th St. in Milwaukee and move those operations, which currently employ 449 full-time workers, to Menomonee Falls.

Leonardo DRS will build a $56 million, 350,000-squarefoot factory and engineering plant to be constructed in the Woodland Prime office park north of Good Hope Road on the eastern edge of Menomonee Falls. Russel Marsh, vice president and general manager of the Leonardo Naval Power Systems Line of Business, said the growth and expansion needs of their customers “require a more modern and efficient facility.”

The WEDC is awarding Leonardo DRS up to $18.5 million in state income tax credits over the next seven years. The company will receive credits or payments for retaining existing jobs, creating up to 220 new jobs, making capital investments and training its employees.

The village will provide approximately $6.4 million to Leonardo DRS through a tax increment district, which the Village Board approved Monday night. New property taxes generated in the district will help pay for the development.

The facility, expected to open in 2020, will also house the design, test and manufacturing facilities for naval and marine power distribution, power conversion, motor controls, drives and automation/control equipment for the U.S. Navy, commercial and international customers, according to a press release. The facility will also include most of its business development and production activities.

Leonardo DRS had previously requested to remain anonymous and had called the development “Project Walleye,” according to a 17application submitted to the village by Briohn Building Corp. on behalf of Weas Development, which represents Leonardo DRS.

Wisconsin Newspaper Association Attorney James Friedman said a company can request that a municipality keep their name confidential. However, there are very limited circumstances where the request would be upheld following a Freedom of Information Act balancing test, he said.

Local support

Village Trustee Paul Tadda asked the company to invest in Menomonee Falls taxpayers as they have invested in Leonardo DRS, Tadda said in a speech Monday night. He admitted that he wasn’t sure whether to support the project, adding that as a proud son of a janitor, he’ll always support increasing job opportunities for Falls residents.

“I would like them to become active players in the STEM programming offered at the village’s two great districts and I’d like them to help sponsor Falls community events, programs and parades,” Tadda said.

The Leonardo DRS Naval Power Systems line of business and its lineage have been Wisconsin-based for more than 100 years and the company plans to invest more in the region with this move, said Marsh. Village President David Glasgow said Menomonee Falls is thrilled to welcome a company of this caliber.

“DRS is precisely the kind of company we want in our community, joining a strong roster of global companies that call the village home,” Glasgow said.

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