Parachute Firm Lands In Pompano Beach
Parachute maker Ballistic Recovery Systems is opening a new
plant in Pompano Beach, FL, and plans to hire 500 workers.
The South St. Paul, MN-based firm, which makes parachutes for
the military and aviation industry, has leased 124,894 square feet
at the Superior Commerce Park, off Powerline Road, according to
broker Michael Scarpino of NAI Rauch Weaver Norfleet Kurtz &
Co. The lease term is a little more than five years with renewal
options, he said.
Ballistic's new plant will make low-cost cargo parachutes for
the military. The parachutes are designed to be tossed once they
drop off supplies, which can be anything from bullets to bandages.
When it reaches full production, the Pompano Beach plant should be
cranking out about 30,000 throwaway parachutes a year.
The hiring has already begun. Ballistic CEO Larry Williams said
the firm has hired about a 100 so far, and hopes to have the
remainder on board by the end of the year. The jobs start at about
$9 an hour and include sewers, parachute riggers, packers and
cutters, he said.
BRS Larry Williams
Williams said Ballistic would likely need to train most of its
new South Florida workers to make and assemble parachutes. "We did
quite an extensive [site] search," Williams said. "We needed to be
in a large metro area where there is a large workforce." That was
the lesson learned from its 208-person plant in Pinebluff, N.C.,
where the population just wasn't large enough to support expanded
production, he said.
Ballistic worked closely with the Broward Alliance, but the
average salary of the jobs being created wasn't enough to qualify
for job growth incentives, according to David Coddington, VP of
business development for the Broward Alliance. He said the alliance
was able to work with Workforce One, the city of Pompano Beach and
federal manufacturing programs, however, to assist Ballistic with
training workers and ramping up its new plant. "What we did was to
connect the dots," Coddington said.
BRS Cargo Parachute
And, Ballistic may be just the tip of a trend reversing the
decade-long bleeding of manufacturing jobs from South Florida to
Coddington said he has had a flurry of inquiries from
manufacturers, due, in part, to falling housing prices and
industrial rents. "It has again made us competitive with other
places around the country," he said.