Purdue Research Park lands up to 200 helicopter design jobs to support Sikorsky

Published: December 1, 2004

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., and MONTVALE, N.J. – Purdue Research Park has landed as many as 200 high-tech jobs in the helicopter industry, thanks to teamwork by state, local and university leaders.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has selected New Jersey-based Butler International Inc. to open a new engineering design center at the research park. Butler will perform targeted engineering design in support of projected growth in domestic and international development. Sikorsky, based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of advanced helicopters for commercial, industrial and military uses. Among its better known products are the H-60 "Blackhawk" helicopters. The company also has built and maintained every presidential helicopter since the days of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"This is a great opportunity for us. We are pleased to grow our relationship with Sikorsky and are looking forward to expanding our presence in Indiana by opening the center in West Lafayette," said Edward M. Kopko, chairman and chief executive officer for Butler. "The award of this important contract is a testament to Butler's ability to provide high-quality, skilled resources and customize our services to meet our customers' unique needs at a great value." 

Butler expects initially to bring in 40 employees, and the operation may grow to as many as 200 staff or more by year's end, contingent on several anticipated contract awards to Sikorsky. Butler operates three design centers within Indiana, and this center is anticipated to be the largest.

Mark F. Miller, Sikorsky's vice president of research and engineering, said the West Lafayette design center will be key to anticipated growth.

"Butler International's expansion into West Lafayette is fully aligned with our strategy of utilizing domestic engineering design centers for targeted airframe and subsystem detail design activities," Miller said. "The work performed at the West Lafayette design center will be complementary to the system integration, vehicle definition and dynamic systems design activities ongoing at our home office in Connecticut and will be a key element in meeting anticipated growing engineering requirements." 

The Butler design team will occupy 12,900 square feet of the former Whirlpool Corp. building, which is being renovated. The agreement includes an option to lease an additional 17,660 square feet over the next several years. The 111,000-square-foot warehouse facility was left vacant by the appliance manufacturer in September 2001 and acquired by the Purdue Research Foundation shortly thereafter. The foundation then worked with Purdue University, the Indiana Department of Commerce, the city of West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and the Lafayette/West Lafayette Economic Development Corp. to land the Butler Technical Group.

"The location of this high-technology enterprise at the Purdue Research Park is an important step for Indiana, because it demonstrates that the state is very competitive in the knowledge-based economy," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "We are glad that Sikorsky and its subcontractor Butler Technical Group agree: Purdue's strength in engineering, as well as aeronautics and astronautics, will be a major asset to these companies. They also will benefit from being in a very dynamic Lafayette/West Lafayette community, close to the cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research going on at Purdue."

Purdue offers several services to companies in the research park, including the use of Purdue's specialized research equipment and laboratories; technical assistance; access to university purchasing services for small amounts of unique supplies, e.g., chemical, biological, engineering, etc.; and access to top engineering and design student interns. In addition, academically qualified personnel from the firm are eligible for adjunct professorships at Purdue. 

The firm's location within the Purdue Research Park will provide access to a high-speed telecommunications infrastructure and large conference rooms with videoconferencing capabilities; public relations, marketing and human resources assistance; networking opportunities with the other high-tech park companies through social and issue-oriented events; and a close proximity to a state-of-the-art fitness center surrounded by walking trails that are connected to the city's park system.

"We have spent the last few years building an environment at the Purdue Research Park that high-tech companies won't be able to resist," said Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president and treasurer of the Purdue Research Foundation. "With Indiana's largest cluster of technology companies, we are at the point where we can offer the kind of synergistic environment necessary to attract these kinds of established technology ventures."

The city of West Lafayette and Purdue Research Foundation together will renovate the former Whirlpool Corp. facility. Renovation expenses are projected to total approximately $4 million.

"Purdue Research Park continues to be an important force in the development of Indiana's high-tech economy by providing a place where technology companies can flourish and, subsequently, create the kinds of jobs our engineering graduates need in order to stay here," said Jan H. Mills, mayor of West Lafayette.

An economic development incentive package offered by the state of Indiana and accepted by Butler includes $2.8 million in Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits, which credit the company's state income tax liability for new jobs created.; $225,000 in training dollars from the Skills Enhancement Fund; a Technology Enhancement Certifications for Hoosiers (TECH) training grant worth up to $50,000; an Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) training grant worth $200,000; $53,000 in profiles and assessments from the DWD WorkKeys; and approximately $188,000 in assistance from local WorkOne facility for recruitment.

"Butler's decision to stay in Indiana and create up to 200 jobs shows that the steps we've taken to strengthen the business climate is paying off and our state's economy will continue to move in the right direction as a result," said Gov. Joseph Kernan. "Partnerships like the one among the state, Purdue Research Park and the City of West Lafayette will continue to strengthen our ability to attract good companies to Indiana and create high-paying jobs for Hoosiers."

Local assistance is expected to include up to a $450,000 grant to Lafayette-West Lafayette Economic Development Corporation from Tippecanoe County. LWL-EDC would use the money over a three-year period, up to $150,000 annually, to assist in recruiting and relocating job candidates.

"Working together collaboratively made this project happen," said Tippecanoe County Commissioner K.D. Benson. "Tippecanoe County sees the value and the opportunity in this, and we're pleased to take part."

Sikorsky helicopters are flown by all five branches of the United States' armed forces, along with military services and commercial operators in more than 40 nations. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX), of Hartford, Conn., which provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

Butler International Inc. (NASDAQ SC: BUTL) is a leading provider of TechOutsourcing services, with customers worldwide. During its 58-year history, Butler has served many leading companies. Butler's current client list includes Avon Products Inc., BellSouth Corp., Boeing Co., Caterpillar, Citigroup, Johnson and Johnson, Los Alamos National Laboratories, Merrill Lynch, Nortel Networks and Verizon Communications.

Purdue Research Park is Indiana's first Certified Technology Park and home to the largest university-affiliated business incubator in the country. This year it was named the top research park in the nation by its peers at the Association of University Research Parks. In the past three years, the park has launched more than 30 technology startup companies. The more than 100 companies in the park employ more than 2,500 people.

Writer: Jeanine Phipps, media relations, Purdue Research Park, (765) 494-0748, jeanine@purdue.edu

Edward Steadham, communications director, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (203) 386-7143, esteadham@sikorsky.com

James Beckley, senior vice president, Butler Technical Group, jbeckley@butler.com

Renee Ward, marketing communications, Butler Technical Group, (201) 476-5430, rward@butler.com

Joseph Hornett, (765) 496-1658, jbhornett@purdueresearchfoundation.org

Jan H. Mills, (765) 775-5100, mayor@mail.city.west-lafayette.in.us

Leigh Durbin, Indiana Department of Commerce, ldurbin@commerce.IN.gov

Angela Dye, public relations director, Indiana Department of Commerce, (317) 232-2464, (317) 691-5621 (mobile)

Cinda Kelley, interim director, Lafayette/West Lafayette Economic Development Corporation: (765) 742-0095 ext. 2, cinda@lwledc.org


Engineering design support for Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. will be performed by a division of the New Jersey-based Butler International in a new center to open at Purdue Research Park. The center is expected to bring West Lafayette as many as 200 high-tech jobs in the helicopter industry. Among Sikorsky's better-known products are the H-60 Blackhawk and the Marine One presidential helicopter. The company is proposing a new version of its H-92 demonstrator helicopter (shown) for the next Marine One. (Photo courtesy of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.)