Thank you, thank you. See, I have to have a step because I was seated between Aaron and Eric. Mayor Price and all of the other dignitaries – thank you all for being here. It’s very exciting to finally be here today. For Newport News Shipbuilding, the groundbreaking of Brooks Crossing represents the next step in our business innovation and business transformation. It’s going to be a center for innovation for us. It’s going to help us attract new, awesome talent to the shipyard and to Newport News Shipbuilding and the Hampton Roads region. We plan to have about 600 employees in this location and we will have people who are on the leading edge of our innovative workforce: engineers, designers, planners. It’s also going to host our craftsmen and women and crafts leaders who really are defining how we’re going to run our business in the 21st-century. The future of our business is going to start here. We’re going to be looking at new technologies, at how our planning processes and manufacturing processes change. And we’re going to be preparing a workforce for working in a digital environment and it is very, very exciting.
For the community: I’m really happy that we’re able to continue the partnership we have with the community. We’ve had a strong partnership over decades, the old Montgomery Ward and Sears buildings, which are now engineering centers that come with parking garages and even the Virginia Advanced Shipbuilding and Carrier Integration Center, the VASCIC building, are elements of that. And we do believe very strongly in our legacy of not just being a good shipbuilding company, but a great community partner.
For me personally, this has been a long journey to this point. I grew up in St. Louis, in an inner city environment, and I went to a public school system and was good at math and science. But, along my life’s journey from there to here, I never really saw a lot of minority and women studying and working in STEM professions. And the opportunity to leverage what we have done with our career pathways program, which is just shipbuilding volunteers really helping students in our community become the best that they can be, has led to the idea of doing that on a more permanent basis at Brooks Crossing.
So, the shipyard will occupy the top three floors but we’re really excited about what’s going to happen on the first floor. The first floor is going to be a community center where we’re going to be able to help students who have those natural STEM talents really find their way in life and excel at what is going to be a really exciting future in manufacturing.
So, it’s exciting because my personal history has shaped my vision at what we can become and to really try to grow and keep that talent in this region, to do what we do at Newport News. No one has the opportunity that we have. We like to say at the shipyard: “We build the most complex machines on the face of the earth. And we can continue this only in Newport News and always in Newport News,” with this exciting endeavor. So thank you all for being here, thank you city for your support. And Aaron, I look forward to making Brooks just a fantastic name.