Pratt & Whitney to add 215 jobs at Palm Beach County plant


Pratt & Whitney will add 215 high-paying engineering jobs at its jet engine plant in northwestern Palm Beach County, the company said Wednesday.

Pratt & Whitney also announced it would invest $100 million in upgrades to 7,000-acre complex along the Beeline Highway. The aerospace manufacturer will build one new facility and renovate another.

Related: Palm Beach County jobless rate falls to 12-year low

Palm Beach County commissioners in April approved incentives for a mystery company known as “Project Zeus 2.” On Wednesday, at a news conference attended by Gov. Rick Scott, state and local officials said Pratt is the recipient of the subsidy, which will total $3.05 million over eight years.

The incentive package includes a combination of tax breaks and cash.

Pratt & Whitney said the average salary of the new jobs will be $91,124. Vice President David Carter said the positions will be immune to automation and overseas outsourcing, the twin banes of the U.S. labor market.

The aerospace company, a division of United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) of Farmington, Connecticut, has operated from Palm Beach County for six decades and has more than 1,000 employees here.

“Pratt & Whitney, in addition to building engines, is an economic engine for our county,” County Commissioner Steven Abrams said Wednesday.

Pratt & Whitney first opened its engine-testing compound in Palm Beach County in 1958. Since then, it has become a linchpin of the region’s aerospace industry.

Related: Pratt & Whitney opened complex 60 years ago

The company was tight-lipped about exactly what the new workers will do, presumably because Pratt & Whitney is a defense contractor developing engines for fighter jets.

Pratt & Whitney is under contract with the F-35 Joint Program Office to produce and the F135 engine for the F-35 jets being used by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. F135 engines are also used on F-35 planes purchased by other countries.

Pratt & Whitney, which also makes engines for commercial aircraft, reported sales of $16.2 billion in 2017, up from $14.9 billion in 2016.

Pratt & Whitney said it has invested more than $188 million in its Palm Beach County facility since 2000, including the construction of a 97,000-square-foot engine factory that opened in 2014. Pratt parent United Technologies has been investing heavily in Palm Beach County. In April, its Climate, Controls and Security division opened a $115 million facility in Palm Beach Gardens.

The new jobs are good news for Palm Beach County’s labor market, which has shown mixed results in recent years. While the county’s unemployment rate fell to 3.3 percent in April, a 12-year low, job growth has been tepid.


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