Rolls Royce Corp. recently announced its intent to build a manufacturing facility in the Cross Point area of Prince George County, VA. “Initially the facility will be an assembly and test facility specifically for our RB282 engine, which is a new engine serving the corporate aircraft market,” says Mia Walton, senior vice president of corporate communications for Rolls-Royce North America. The facility is also intended for eventual advanced manufacturing work on the blisk engine component and defense contract work, according to Walton.
The manufacturing facility will provide economic opportunity for a number of residents in the area, as it is speculated to create approximately 500 new jobs in the area, many of which will be engineering jobs. “Initially the focus will be on production and manufacturing engineers,” says Walton. “Over time however, a broader range of engineers covering a range of disciplines may be required.”
Along with the development of the production facility, Rolls Royce will be using the University of Virginia (UVA) and Virginia Tech as research partners who will in part be funded by the state. “Part of the development between Rolls Royce and the state is the development of two research centers; one is a research center in advanced manufacturing and the other is a research center in aerospace propulsion systems,” says Don Leo, dean of engineering at Virginia Tech.
Along with the development of the research facilities, Virginia Tech and UVA have been awarded a total of nine endowed chairs — three for Virginia Tech, three for UVA's engineering department and three for the McIntire School of Commerce.
Before Virginia was selected as the site to build these new facilities, other locations up for selection included Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Texas. According to Walton, it was “infrastructure, availability of a skilled labor pool, access to ports, transportation, commercial airline flights nearby, transport and cargo” that led Rolls Royce to Virginia.