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Lockheed Martin CEO says Trump asked her to save plant that makes White House helicopters

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 13, 2017.

EVAN VUCCI/AP

By JOSEPH N. DISTEFANO | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Published: June 15, 2019

COATESVILLE, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson said Friday that she's thinking about ways to keep her company's Sikorsky helicopter factory in Coatesville, Chester County, open because President Donald Trump asked her to.

"@POTUS called me today to discuss the pending closure of our Coatesville PA operation. We had an open and constructive conversation and I agreed to explore additional options for keeping the facility open," Hewson said in a social-media post.

Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Callie D. Ferrari confirmed her boss's statement and said the company has nothing to add.

The company had told 465 workers it plans to close the plant by the end of this year.

In a letter to freshman U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D., Pa.), who represents the district, Sikorsky boss Dan Schultz said earlier this month that the company didn't have enough orders to keep Coatesville open, so it would shut down later this year when it finished six replacement helicopters for the Marine One choppers currently in use by the president.

Six additional presidential helicopters were to be made in Connecticut.

Houlahan had asked the company to reconsider, and introduced a bill that could slow down the helicopters' production by requiring the Army to study the shutdown's impact on U.S. defense production before fully funding the work, as if to force the company to keep Coatesville open a while longer.

Schultz, in his response, said the Coatesville plant closing would have no effect on suppliers or helicopter availability because resources are already committed to other projects.

But Houlahan, Chester County Chamber of Commerce president Guy Ciarrocchi, and other Chester County leaders said they were actively looking for alternative jobs Lockheed Martin might perform at the plant, and other possible operators for the facility, which was expanded using Pennsylvania state aid.

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