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Raytheon executives visit Grand Forks, hear pitch for North Dakota expansion

Area business and political leaders spent Monday making the case for a large defense contractor to consider expanding to Grand Forks. Executives from Raytheon, which manufactures numerous products including sensing systems for large unmanned airc...

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FILE PHOTO: UND Center for Innovation. (Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald)

Area business and political leaders spent Monday making the case for a large defense contractor to consider expanding to Grand Forks.

Executives from Raytheon, which manufactures numerous products including sensing systems for large unmanned aircraft systems, listen to the pitch and received a tour of Grand Sky business park.

"We brought officials from Raytheon to Grand Forks to highlight the kind of dynamic UAS technology and business environment we can offer them - an environment they won't find anywhere elsewhere," said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

The park, located on land rented from Grand Forks Air Force Base, aims to be home to businesses involved in the unmanned aircraft industry, ranging from manufacturers to data management centers.

Representatives from the business park, the city and county of Grand Forks, UND, local business support organizations and others met with Raytheon representatives.

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"This is our first visit and we're trying to get the lay of the land and the opportunities for what we do next," said Jim Hvizd, vice president of international business development for Raytheon.

Hvizd added later what he had seen so far in North Dakota was "a great enterprise." He was accompanied on the trip by Kristin Spivey, senior manager of strategy and business development, and Joe Zummo, director of governmental relations.

During Monday's presentation, Grand Forks officials also highlighted UND's UAS program and research, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, state research grants and financial incentives should the company choose to build at Grand Sky.

Both of the business park's anchor tenants, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp., work with Raytheon in some capacity.

General Atomics and Raytheon announced last month an initiative to evaluate how to integrate unmanned aircraft flight control, sensor collection and other capabilities into an existing radar system. General Atomic's Reaper aircraft would be outfitted with the system under the arrangement.

Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk already include Raytheon products, namely its sensing system that allows the aircraft to produce high-resolution imagery that can penetrate clouds, among other features.

Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass., and employs about 63,000 people worldwide. The company posted $23.2 billion in revenue in 2015.

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