Friday, October 16, 2009

Don't Let the Door Hit You in The Ass

General Dynamics to Leave Burlington

Updated at 4:45 p.m. with quote from city officials in Burlington

General Dynamics, which employs 450 people in Burlington, is moving its Technology Center from Lakeside Avenue to buildings formerly owned by IBM in Williston.

The move is expected to be complete by the end of 2010, company officials said in a release.

“Our business is changing, and we need to take steps to ensure we are as efficient and effective as we can be,” said Bill Gural, vice president and general manager of the Burlington operation, in a statement. “By moving, we’ll be adopting a new environment for our employees that will improve their ability to collaborate, make them more efficient and help them remain focused on accomplishing our customers’ missions.”

The new facility, owned and managed by IBM, covers 112,000 square feet of office space. Employees will remain at the existing Lakeside Avenue site until the new facility is built-out to General Dynamics’ specifications.

No plans have yet been presented to Williston officials, said Williston Town Planner Ken Belliveau.

Burlington officials have yet to respond to a request for comment. Stay tuned...

As noted in this week's "Fair Game", General Dynamics is one of the many contractors who would be potentially affected by an amendment authored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — also a former mayor of Burlington — aimed at curbing fraud and abuse amongst defense contractors.


Community and Economic Development Office Director Larry Kupferman said he was disappointed to hear the news about General Dynamics leaving Burlington, but is glad to hear they are remaining in Vermont.

"We wish any business well in Vermont and I'm glad they are staying in Vermont. General Dynamics provides a beneficial function for the country," said Kupferman.

Rumors about General Dynamics leaving the Queen City have been percolating for some time, he noted, but the decision to leave was not something that city officials had any sway to change.

"That said, there is a lot of interest in 'Class A' office space and I have every confidence that it will be filled," said Kupferman. "There have been a lot of energy efficiency improvements and other updates in recent years, and there are acres of parking."

Kupferman said the city has about a 1 percent vacancy rate for prime office space akin to what General Dynamics is vacating. He added that General Dynamics will retain some space in Burlington beyond 2010.

As of Friday afternoon, the city had not heard directly from General Dynamics about their move.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Federal Government to General Dynamics: Give Us Our Money Back!

The fact that the federal government is almost two decades later trying to get it's money back from GD over this fiasco highlights many of our arguments about national and state priorities regarding the power of the military industrial complex and the powerlessness of communities, taxpayers, etc..

Court upholds Navy cancellation of A-12 aircraft


WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing Co. and General Dynamics Corp. must pay the government $2.8 billion to settle a nearly two-decade dispute over the cancellation of a Navy contract for a stealth aircraft, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Tuesday.

The Navy was justified in 1991 when it opted to terminate the $4 billion contract with McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics to build a stealth aircraft, the court said.

Chicago-based Boeing, which acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997, said it will appeal the ruling.

The aircraft project was ended for being substantially over budget and behind schedule, according to the Justice Department. Both contractors were under a fixed-price contract to develop the A-12, a carrier-based attack aircraft.

But because of serious technical difficulties, the Pentagon refused to approve additional funding, leading the Navy to cancel the program.

In a 29-page opinion, the court explained the contractor's performance history showed that "the government was justifiably insecure about the contract's timely completion."

Both contractors are now required to repay the government more than $1.35 billion, plus interest of $1.45 billion.

Boeing had questioned whether the government owed money to both companies for work in progress when the contract was terminated.

In a statement, Boeing called for an immediate appeal of the court's ruling. Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics issued a statement saying it disagrees with the ruling and continues to believe that the government's default termination was not justified. The company intends to seek a re-hearing in the Federal Circuit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What's a better use of Vermont Tax Breaks than blowing up innocent kids all over the world?

Given the choice between tax breaks intended for small sustainable businesses Governor Douglas gives $3.6 million a year in to $27 Billion a year war profiteer General Dynamics instead of small start ups with dramatic upside growth like Earth Turbines. Maybe it's time you did something about it.

Earth Turbines continues to rise and shine

By Joel Banner Baird, Free Press Staff Writer • January 26, 2009

WILLISTON —The high ceilings contribute to an aircraft-hangar ambiance. So does the silk-screened hang glider suspended in the lobby of Earth Turbines’ Williston headquarters.

What appears to be a 1940s-era fighter engine sits idle on a forklift in the 10,000-square-foot shop space.

David Blittersdorf, 52, the company’s founder and CEO, says the market for small-scale wind generation is ready for takeoff.

He should know. Blittersdorf, a Charlotte resident, founded wind-power testing company NRG Systems 28 years ago. With his wife and business partner, Jan Blittersdorf, he weathered industry downdrafts — and eventually propelled Hinesburg-based NRG into profitable, global markets.

For now, Earth Turbines will remain closer to home. Local demand and increasingly predictable government rebates for green energy have afforded the company a steady updraft in the Green Mountain State.

Two years ago, Blittersdorf had a single employee. Now 16 people (most of them engineers) work full time at the Harvest Lane building. By the end of the year, Blittersdorf said, their number will likely double.

Requests for domestic, grid-wired wind power, meanwhile, have increased exponentially, he added.

“We’ve been getting calls from all over,” he continued. “We’ve had to be patient. It’d be a big mistake to try to sell a turbine to someone in Texas or North Dakota.

“We don’t have a dealer network,” he said. “It’d be like buying a car but having to send it back to Detroit for servicing. The strategy all along has been to develop our testing in Vermont before we go nationwide.”


What’s the attraction? Blittersdorf said more and more people consider turbines a sound, long-term investment: In areas with moderate wind (most of the Champlain Valley), a single turbine will crank out 2.5 killowatts, or the equivalent of one-third to one-half of typical residential use.

Blittersdorf’s turbines aren’t built for off-the-grid living, however. To the contrary: they’re designed to feed (and sell) surplus electricity back to the regional utility in a transaction known as net-metering.

The cost of a single turbine, installed, hovers around $30,000. Federal and state rebates can knock that price down by at least $10,000, Blittersorf said — and will likely become more generous in coming years.

Earth Turbines has 12 prototype units up and running in Vermont. Another 14 units are due up by spring.

Until recently, the rollout has been low profile. The tilt-up, monopole towers go up quickly, and by industrial standards, are easy on the landscape: they rise 100 feet from the ground, versus four times that height for “wind-farm” towers.

Within a month, Earth Turbines will likely cease to be a stealth operation.

Rise and shine

This week, Blittersdorf is finalizing contract details with the Vermont Telecommunications Authority that will place up to 200 towers in remote, broadband-challenged corners of the state. Most of them will perform the dual service of generating electricity for landowners and handling cell and wireless broadband service.

The match, Blittersdorf said, makes good use of his company’s joint expertise in micro-electronics.

“For years we’ve been building remote testing equipment that wakes up once a day and phones home with data,” he said.

Earth Turbines’ proprietary tower designs, he continued, is “game-changing technology” for cell carriers, which routinely pay at least twice as much to get the same altitude. Earth Turbines proposes to erect power-and-cell equipped towers, preconnected to the electrical grid, for about $60,000 apiece.

Under the VTA plan, landowners will get the power supplement free.

Last month, VTA Director Bill Shuttleworth gave the green light for a pilot project in Grafton that will link up power and cell companies beneath a wind turbine.

If it performs well, Shuttleworth said, the template could slash costs of land acquisition, building access roads and running new power lines — obstacles that have historically kept cell carriers out of rural Vermont.

Lean machine

Blittersdorf said his product’s competitive advantages extend beyond what he calls the “instant gratification” of plug-and-play installation.

A patent is pending on the company’s direct-drive rotor — an innovation that eliminates the need for an inverter (a device that converts direct current to alternating current, and which adds to a turbine’s bulk and cost).

Trim, upgradable electronics are a part of Earth Turbines’ inheritance from NRG, as is the smaller company’s adherence to low-inventory, “lean” manufacturing.

“We’ve learned to be patient. What we build is based on customer demand, not on forecasts about what they might want,” Blittersdorf said.

He shops out specialty manufacturing, yet encourages cross-training and versatility among its in-house employees.

That includes training them to fail now and then.

“I tell people the faster you fail, the better,” he said. “You don’t want to get into a position where everybody’s just protecting their butts. As long as you learn something and don’t repeat the mistakes, you’re further ahead.”

The lofty low-down

In conversation, Blittersdorf often refers to his work as “play” — a necessary ingredient, he said, to his entrepreneurial regimen.

He’s not disturbed that the business probably won’t break even for another year. Nor does he consider selling to a multi-national corporation once Earth Turbines turn a profit.

Yet he’s serious about the company’s mission.

“I want to build a business that has lasting power; I don’t want to retire anytime soon — maybe when I’m 70 or 80,” he said.

“My values include doing something for the world,” he continued. “We’re at a critical turning point. I’m excited because I’m a part of it.”

He looked up from his desk to the hang glider. It’s a recent hobby.

“I took it up to overcome a fear of heights,” he said. “It turns out I had a fear of falling — not a fear of heights.”

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 or To get Free Press headlines delivered free to your e-mail, sign up at

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

General Dynamics Profits Everytime the Mideast Burns

How can the city of Burlington Vermont be home a factory of General Dynamics which profits from these Israeli war crimes in direct contravention of the US Arms Export Control Act?

Israel's "Red eye" surface to air missiles, M-60 Battle tanks are all General Dynamics products. Israel's F-16's and Stinger missiles are former GD products farmed out to other arms makers. This arming of another country for purposes of aggression is illegal under US law, specifically the Arms Export Control Act, which says that U.S.-origin weapons are only to be used for self-defense and for internal security inside a countries borders. Clearly blowing up schools the UN has designated as refugee camps is neither of these.

Look at this report featured on Democracy Now for further details
U.S. Military Assistance and Arms Transfers to Israel: U.S. Aid, Companies Fuel Israeli Military by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, July 20, 2006