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MILITARY MANEUVER
NORTHROP GRUMMAN MOVES UNIT TO FORMER INGRAM SITE

Northrop Grumman will move its entire Amherst Systems business unit into the former Ingram Micro building at 1740 Wehrle Drive.

The Los Angeles-based defense contractor will take over 150,000 square feet in the building June 1. The sublease was approved Wednesday by the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, which holds title to the property because it is on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement until 2013.

Northrop Grumman is considering shifting some work from Long Island to Buffalo as it grows from increased defense spending, but no additional details were released Wednesday.

The company will vacate 75,000 square feet at 1775 Wehrle Drive and 30 Wilson Road in Amherst and additional space in other buildings. The defense contractor has been leasing a total of about 132,000 square feet in four area buildings.

"With 350 employees in the Buffalo area, it is extremely important that we co-locate to one facility to improve our operational efficiencies and to better utilize the talent base of the work force," said Don Kump, vice president of the Automatic Test Equipment and Simulators business for Northrop Grumman.

The AIDA approved two other projects during its meeting Wednesday including:

Voss Dental Lab will relocate from 4,200 square feet in Cheektowaga to 21,000 square feet at 125 Lawrence Bell Drive in Amherst. The company, recently acquired by American Dental Partners, plans to add 90 positions in the next two years to manufacture dental prosthetics.

Redline Recovery Services, a collection agency, will open at 2350 North Forest Road. The company was approved Wednesday for an $84,200 sales tax exemption for equipment purchases.

Redline will work for several clients, including banks and consumer lending companies outsourcing debt collection work.

"The expected live date for us is probably some time in July at this point," said Joseph T. Moran, the president of the company. "Our growth plan is to have 50 people in the first 60 days. We have a lot of commitments from clients, so we expect to be growing rapidly."

After slowing for two years, business activity in Amherst is picking up this year. Zaepfel Development Company President James Zaepfel said two prospective tenants have already looked at the 1775 Wehrle Drive building that Northrop Grumman is vacating.

Ingram Micro's building was available because the software distribution company has downsized and consolidated its operations into its 1759 Wehrle Drive building.

Amherst Systems designs and manufactures electronic warfare simulation and training systems. The local unit is part of Northrop Grumman's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems division, which has 22,000 employees and annual revenue topping $5 billion. Electronic Systems is one of the largest of Northrop Grumman's seven divisions.

The defense contractor's business is surging with the Bush administration pumping billions of additional dollars into new technology for homeland defense. Northrop Grumman reported first quarter revenue of $5.9 billion, up 49 percent from the same period last year.

The company announced earlier this month it will team with Boeing and Raytheon to build the Air Force's E-10A, a new radar surveillance aircraft. Some of the radar systems work for the E-10A is expected to be done at Northrop Grumman's facilities in the Bethpage area of Long Island.

Amherst Systems is working on the Joint Threat Emitter, a new training system for pilots and air crew members that simulates electronic combat signals. The company is designing a prototype of the new system with Modern Technologies Corp. of Dayton, Ohio.

Northrop Grumman acquired its Amherst operations in 2000 when it bought Comptek.

e-mail: cbridger@buffnews.com

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