Pratt & Whitney plans to expand its work force in North Berwick, Maine over the next few years, according to Foster's Daily Democrat
. The jet engine producer will initially hire 10 employees, but is seeking to increase its work force to 1,500 employees by 2015. The company currently employs 1,286 at the Maine facility.
The company faces an uphill climb to the expansion. The federal government is considering funding an engine that rivals Pratt's model for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. It is uncertain whether the U.S. military and other countries will choose the competing model over Pratt's.
Plant Manager Peter Borgel says Pratt's technologies are five years ahead of the competition. Whatever the outcome, Pratt has already extended its lease at North Berwick for the next 10 years. "We plan on being here for as far as we can see into the future," Borgel said.
Eighty-five percent of North Berwick employees live in Maine, 15 percent in New Hampshire, and several employees reside in Massachusetts. Pratt accounts for 20 percent of North Berwick's tax base.