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Marine think tank to move to former Great Bay campus

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 18. 2013 8:14PM
The Executive Council on Wednesday approved the sale of the former Great Bay Community College campus building and land in Stratham to Juliet Marine Systems for $2.75 million. The company plans to move its headquarters there. (COURTESY)

STRATHAM - All the pieces are in place for a Portsmouth-based marine technology think tank to move its corporate headquarters to the former Great Bay Community College campus in Stratham, with plans to create 200 new jobs over the next two years.

The Executive Council on Wednesday approved the sale of the former campus building and land to Juliet Marine Systems for $2.75 million.

Juliet Marine, founded in 2004, develops advanced technologies in propulsion for surface and sub-surface, manned and unmanned vessels, for both military and private use. The company currently employs 15 employees in Portsmouth and at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

"The company's research and development vessel, GHOST, is a high-performance craft that will revolutionize the way small boats operate on the water," the company said in a statement released after the sale. "JMS anticipates that as the company grows, it will provide job opportunities in many business and technical areas, and the facility will provide JMS with room to expand."

The company anticipates the new jobs will come in skilled fields such as technical assembly, engineering, customer support, corporate executives and staff.

The community college system will finance the deal, paying the state over three years while holding a 10-year note with the buyer, according to Shannon Reid, director of communications for the Community College System of New Hampshire. The transaction includes the 100,000-square-foot building and 90-acre campus.

The community college consolidated operations at the Pease International Tradeport in 2009 after years of operating at both locations.

As the Pease location began to focus on training programs linked to tradeport businesses, some of which hired graduates directly upon graduation, its enrollment began to grow.

"Financially, it was not ideal to have two growing campuses that were so close together," said Reid, "so the decision was made to consolidate at Pease." In addition to growth at the Pease campus, its location at the intersection of major highways was considered more convenient for students coming from population centers in Portsmouth, Dover, Somersworth and Rochester.

The tradeport hosts some of the employers that have established the most successful partnerships with Great Bay Community College, including Lonza Biologics, PixelMedia and SIG Sauer, a small arms manufacturer that recently moved from Exeter to Pease. Juliet Marine and the college plan to collaborate on similar work-to-hire programs.

"We believe this is a great deal for all parties involved," Reid said. "The state charged the community college system with selling the site, which we are accomplishing through this transaction. The college is gaining a strong industry partner poised to grow and add highly skilled jobs, and the buyer is getting a financing arrangement that enables it to move and begin its expansion."

The Executive Council vote came after unanimous approval from the state's Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee on April 16. "We appreciate the support of the Legislature, Executive Council and the governor in bringing this to fruition," Reid said.

Given its military contracts, the company keeps a low profile and declined to comment beyond the information provided in its joint press release with the community college system.

"The Community College System is excited to be working with Juliet Marine Systems to create the opportunity for this innovative company to expand its operations in New Hampshire, create jobs, expand relationships with local suppliers and support the state and local tax base," said Community College System Chancellor Ross Gittell. "The community college system looks forward to our continuing role in supporting the state's innovation-based economy through education and industry partnerships."

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