The sequester was supposed to hammer Charleston’s military installations and their contractors. But a week after the across-the-board federal budget cut went into effect came a couple of major signals that the local defense industry is still very much in business.
According to an announcement late Thursday, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic has awarded a big-dollar cyber-operations support services contract to 10 companies, including North Charleston’s Barling Bay.
The contract, which will be managed from SPAWAR’s complex in North Charleston but involves work around the world, could be worth as much as $250 million over the next five years.
And on Friday, Engility, a fast-growing spinoff of defense contracting giant L-3 Communications, announced substantial hiring and office expansion plans for its North Charleston operation.
The company hopes to hire about 100 employees, ranging from business analysts to software developers and cyber-security specialists, by the end of May, “if not sooner,” said Thomas DeMars Jr., the company’s engineering services branch director.
He said 118 people work at Engility’s Core Road office now, with more permanently dispatched to client sites.
To support the growth, Engility will nearly double its current 23,000-square-foot office to more than 41,000 square feet.
DeMars said government contracts are fueling the hiring ramp-up “and the funding as we’re seeing right now is stable going forward with a bright future for the programs.”
Those programs include two SPAWAR software contracts, one involving the Marine Corps’ Global Command Support System and the other involving the Department of Veterans Affairs’ benefits management system.
But the jobs could outlive the contracts, DeMars said, given the company’s high-tech focus. “We’ll always have new contracts, new business in this same technical vein,” he said.
The sequester, which went into effect March 1 as part of an effort to trim the nation’s debt, could result in furloughs of civilian defense workers and pared-down contracts if Congress allows it to stand.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906.