CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A company that provides support services for the U.S. Navy is expanding its operations in Chesapeake, bringing 166 new jobs to the area.

Prism Maritime LLC and Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement for the $4 million expansion on Friday at an event, alongside Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Newport News) and others.

The company, founded in 2006, is headquartered in Chesapeake. It provides a multitude of services for the military and commercial maritime industry, including engineering and research.

Prism will build two new 12,000-square-foot facilities for manufacturing, lab and storage space in the Greenbrier North Commerce Park, according to a release from Northam’s office. New jobs will be high-paying, officials say, and be in manufacturing, repair and ship modernization.

“I’m so happy because you’re bringing jobs, jobs, jobs to our state,” said state Sen. Lionell Spruill, a Democrat who represents parts of Chesapeake.

Chesapeake beat out a site in California for the business, which modernizes Navy ships with upgrades to its weapons, combat, radar, and communication systems.

“It’s a big deal for Chesapeake, a big deal for Hampton Roads, a big deal for Virginia. It’s announcements like this and investments like this that make Virginia the number two state to do business. We will do everything we can to maintain that posture,” said Northam.

Prism president and CEO Ron Lee said the work they do is also important to make sure the Navy reaches its goals. This expansion will help.

“It’s really important for us because it provides us to be a part of that growth with the Navy to expand their ships. But in order for the Navy to reach their goal for the number of ships they want, not only do they have to build new ships, but they have to keep the older ships working properly and maintained properly and modernized,” he said.

Prism gets incentives from the city and state, with support for employee recruitment and training via the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

Lee called it a “win all the way around.”

Northam said the expansion of businesses can help highlight how well Virginia’s economy has done during the pandemic.

“We came into COVID strong economically. We learned a lot during COVID. We expect to come out of COVID in a strong position. People want to get out there and spend their money. We just want them to do it safely and responsibly and our economy will keep growing,” he said.

Northam attributes Hampton Roads’ workforce as one of the reasons why Prism chose to expand its facilities in Chesapeake.

“The reason companies like this chose to be in a place like Chesapeake is because of our workforce,” said Northam. “We have a very talented workforce. We have 23 good community colleges. Now Virginians can go to community college tuition-free. We have great colleges and universities, great leadership. It’s a friendly business environment here in Virginia.”

But Lee said they’re still having a hard time trying to fill jobs. They are, however, working with the state to get more trained people employed.

“We have a big training program inside our company. So, we’re not only looking for people that are already skilled and experienced. WE’re looking for entry-level people. We’ll take them and train them,” he said.

Lee said those jobs range from entry-level labor help to marine electricians, welders, and pipefitters.

The two facilities will be completed by October. Lee said they are hiring currently for the new jobs.

The announcement came just two days after Northam announced that Dominion Energy is using the Portsmouth Marine Terminal as a staging and pre-assembly area for Dominion’s $8 billion wind energy project off the coast of Virginia Beach.

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