- Associated Press - Friday, May 26, 2017

MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) - Northrop Grumman Corp. will begin making part of the F-35 fighter jet in Mississippi, investing $3.7 million and adding 60 jobs over the next four years.

The defense contractor and Gov. Phil Bryant made the announcement Friday. Northrop Grumman, based in Bethesda, Maryland, currently has 50 employees in the Gulf Coast town of Moss Point assembling military drones.

Defense contractors often spread work to many states to maintain political support for expensive weapons programs. According to a website of primary F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., work for the F-35 is done in 46 states. U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran is a Mississippi Republican.

The company is in line to get more than $3.4 million in state and local aid. Mississippi Development Authority spokeswoman Tammy Craft said the state will provide $1.75 million to pay for building improvements, equipment and training. Jackson County will provide $685,000 for improvements to a publicly owned building at Trent Lott International Airport in Moss Point, which Northrop Grumman is leasing through 2026.

Craft said Northrop Grumman will be eligible to receive some worker income tax rebates because the company pays wages higher than the state average. Northrop Grumman would get at least $1 million over 10 years, assuming 60 jobs paying the minimum $42,130. The company declines to say how much it pays, although Craft said it’s “well above the state average.”

The company will also be eligible for property tax breaks on equipment, although Craft did not provide an estimate of their potential value.

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