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Lockheed Martin presents Gateway Center plans at ceremony

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By Deborah Swearingen

Lockheed Martin hosted an official Gateway Center groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday.

Employees of Lockheed Martin, government officials and other community members gathered to celebrate the 266,000-square-foot facility. Construction began a couple of weeks ago on the Gateway Center, which will allow for the simultaneous manufacture of a wide range of satellites and will include a variety of testing chambers that simulate space conditions, test sensors and communications systems. This will allow for advanced test operations and analysis.

“The purpose … goes far beyond just expanding our manufacturing capability,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, mentioning the large, thermal vacuum chamber built to simulate the harsh environment of space and to test a satellite before its departure.

When the $350 million facility — located on the company’s Waterton Canyon campus in South Jeffco — is completed in 2020, it will be the most advanced satellite-production center in Lockheed Martin’s history.

Breaking ground on the Gateway Center is one step in Lockheed Martin’s ongoing transformation and effort to keep up with a changing world, Ambrose added.

“In the space industry, we have no choice but to remain highly laser focused on the future and continuously transforming to meet its demands,” he said. “It’s not enough just to develop those technologies and solutions for today’s problems, but we really need to anticipate and plan for future needs even those aren’t real clear.”

In addition to Ambrose, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, Jeffco Commissioner Don Rosier and Jay Lindell, an aerospace and defense industry champion with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, spoke at the groundbreaking event.

Not only is Lockheed Martin’s investment critical to the aerospace industry in Colorado, but it’s also important on a national level, Coffman said.

“There is so much anxiety in Washington, D.C., now in terms of national security,” he said. “The work that Lockheed Martin does, it gives us situational awareness. It gives us the knowledge of what our adversaries are doing.”

Rosier also commended Lockheed Martin, calling the company a catalyst for the regional aerospace industry.

“In fact, Lockheed Martin’s high-earning investment to Jefferson County over the past 60 years has fostered a very dynamic and robust aerospace industry that has added billions of dollars into the local economy,” he said.

Lockheed Martin opened its Waterton Canyon campus in 1956 and is the largest employer in Jeffco.

Construction of the Gateway Center will employ an estimated 1,500 contract workers over the next three years. Several companies have been contracted to handle construction of the new facility, including Matrix PDM Engineering, Dynavac and ETS-Lindgren. Greeley-based Hensel Phelps has been selected as the general contractor for the project.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.