With space giant Boeing̵[ads1]7;s recently announced move to Northern Virginia, Raytheon would stand out among the top five defense contractors if they kept their headquarters here. That said, Raytheon remains one of Massachusetts’ largest employers, with an estimated 15,000 workers across facilities in Andover, Tewksbury and other Boston suburbs. The company reported $ 64 billion in revenue last year, and a global workforce of 174,000 people.
“It’s always a bummer to lose headquarters. That’s where the company’s powerhouse is, ”said John Regan, CEO of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which counts Raytheon as a longtime member. ‘They have definitely communicated to me. . . that intention is to keep a strong presence in Massachusetts and keep your head high. From that perspective, I think it’s okay. Hopefully, they will be able to keep this commitment going. “
But Raytheon’s move raises questions about the long-term impact on philanthropic gifts, community involvement and investment decisions. However, the biggest implication can be difficult to measure.
“There are implications for the location of branding when a state loses a large Fortune 500 headquarters,” said John Boyd, an area selection expert based in Boca Raton, Florida. “The reality is that Northern Virginia has become the center of gravity for the nation’s defense and aerospace industries.”
Raytheon spokesman Chris Johnson said the move to Arlington would take place before the end of September, and would result in a “small expansion” of an existing Raytheon office, near the Pentagon. The company will retain its Waltham office, Johnson added, and does not expect a net increase in employment in Virginia as a result.
Raytheon’s move follows Boeing’s announcement in May that they would move the company’s headquarters from Chicago to the office in Arlington, Va. Industrial rivals General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are already based in the DC suburbs, with the exception of Lockheed Martin in Northern Virginia.
“You could say this was in a way inevitable,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank that receives funding from Raytheon and other contractors. “It’s a little sad, because Raytheon started right across the street from MIT where the Necco candy is [factory] our. What happens is that when your key competitors move near your key customer, you have to follow them in a way to stay competitive. “
Raytheon said they are taking action to increase “their smithy in supporting US governments and commercial space customers” and to “strengthen partnerships” to develop innovative technologies for the space industry. Raytheon also noted that each of the four business units – Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Intelligence & Space and Missiles & Defense – has operations in Virginia. The company said it has not accepted or sought any government incentives for the move.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin boasted of the Raytheon move on Tuesday, saying that this “decision to have headquarters in Arlington demonstrates that the Commonwealth [of Virginia] is the best destination for the space and defense community. “
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker downplayed the local effect here, saying that Raytheon is simply keeping up with its rivals. He told a reporter that the company informed him of the move shortly before the announcement and made it clear that there would be no loss of local jobs.
“I do not think it will have any impact on their growth or their continued commitment here,” Baker said. “They have some deep roots here, and some very important programs that are specialized, that would be very difficult to move in the first place.”
Raytheon started in 1922, in Cambridge, as American Appliance Co., although it quickly shifted its focus to electronics and became one of Massachusetts’ first major technology companies. It was the leading manufacturer of a microwave-generating electron tube known as the magnetron, which the US military used to improve radar detection of enemy aircraft during World War II. This work led to the company’s commercialization of the microwave oven. Raytheon also contributed to Route 128’s reputation as “America’s Technology Highway” during the corridor’s heyday.
By the time of the 2020 merger with UTC, Raytheon had become known for its missile and satellite systems, while UTC spun off the Otis lift and Carrier heating and cooling divisions to focus on space travel. Today, Raytheon employs thousands of people across several Pratt & Whitney facilities in Connecticut, and maintains a large “integrated defense system” location in Portsmouth, RI, where nearly 1,000 people worked before the pandemic began.
Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, said he was not worried that Raytheon’s move would be seen as a critique of Massachusetts’ tax policy.
“I did not want to read anything into it,” said Anderson, who is among business leaders fighting a proposed high-income tax that goes to the ballot this year. “It’s unfortunate to lose a fantastic company headquartered like Raytheon, but the financial impact is de minimis.”
Anderson compared the decision to General Electric’s headquarters moving from Connecticut to Massachusetts in 2016, which eventually brought only about 200 jobs to Boston. With Raytheon’s departure, GE will become the largest defense contractor headquartered in Massachusetts, with military work that includes the production of jet and helicopter engines at a large factory in Lynn.
Joseph Donovan, a local defense lobbyist with law firm Nelson Mullins, said Massachusetts officials should cultivate next-generation defense companies, in part by investing in workforce development and private-sector partnerships with local universities.
“Raytheon’s legacy and history is in Massachusetts,” Donovan said. “More importantly, we need to focus on growth and innovation strategies to grow the next Raytheon in Massachusetts.”
Catherine Carlock of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.