- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A major defense contractor says it will add almost 2,000 new high-paying jobs in Tucson over the next five years.

Raytheon is southern Arizona’s largest private employer and already has about 10,000 workers in the state.

The aerospace and defense company announced on Friday that it was expanding operations in engineering and technical development.

Raytheon president Taylor W. Lawrence wouldn’t elaborate on how many jobs will be added each year for the next five years, but said they will include finance and human resources hires in addition to mathematicians and engineers. He said the move came amid growing demand for defense products.

“There’s significant demand for our system and our job is to make the world a safer place,” Lawrence said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey hailed the expansion.

“This is great news and just more proof that southern Arizona’s economy is on fire,” Ducey said. “We’re very excited about what’s possible and about what is happening in greater Tucson and southern Arizona.”

Lawrence said the company decided to expand in Tucson because of incentives from local governments, although he declined to give specifics.

“In my conversation with local leaders here we wanted to make sure there was a competitive package,” Lawrence said. “The state is competing with other states.”

Pima County officials have tried to fuel Raytheon’s growth by creating a buffer zone that the company uses to handle its biggest missiles and rerouting a critical access road. The county also created the Aerospace, Defense & Technology Research and Business Park, a 500-acre property meant to fit needs of the aerospace and defense industry.

Raytheon’s expansion comes as its stocks have been boosted by the election of Republican Donald Trump, who many believe will increase spending in defense.

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