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General Dynamics to consolidate, grow in St. Peterburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Weapons maker General Dynamics is combining two businesses and making St. Petersburg the headquarters of the consolidated division.

The defense giant will close its 90-employee armament and technical products operation in Charlotte, N.C., by the end of the year. Some employees will be transferred to St. Petersburg, and there will be new hires here. Exact numbers aren't determined yet.

"There will be job growth," General Dynamics spokesman Rob Doolittle said. "There will be new jobs in St. Petersburg … corporate management-type functions, finance, legal and human resources."

General Dynamics chose to make St. Petersburg the headquarters because there are more employees here, he said. The company has 170 employees at 11399 16th Court N off Roosevelt Boulevard.

The ordnance and tactical systems business headquartered here is a leading manufacturer of mortar weapons, artillery projectiles, bomb bodies and propellants. It has 3,500 employees around the country. The armament and technical products business moving from Charlotte makes vehicle survivability systems for the U.S. military and its allies, as well as suspension systems for heavy military and commercial vehicles. It has 2,500 workers around the country. St. Petersburg operation will oversee the combined workforce.

"I've got to think that the general support for the defense industry here gave us a little edge over Charlotte," said Mike Meidel, director of Pinellas County Economic Development. He pointed to training programs, grants and the county's annual defense and technology trade show.

"It's always great to have a Fortune 500 company and prime defense contractor (General Dynamics is the fourth largest in the world) choose Pinellas County for their consolidation plans," Meidel added. "I'm sure the decision was made based on a detailed analysis of which location would make the most financial sense and also provide the productivity and efficiency improvements they were seeking."

Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at kssmith@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8785.

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