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Defense Contract Nets Jobs In Harnett County

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LILLINGTON, N.C. — A Lillington textile company has netted a big job. Saab Barracuda will trim, fold and roll thousands of camouflage nets for the military.

A newly negotiated government contract calls for up to $240 million worth of the high-tech fabric over the next five years.

The work will give hope in hard times to people like Barbara Neighbors.

"It means life for me, because if it wasn't for this, I'd be out of work," she said.

Neighbors knows plenty of people in Harnett County who cannot find jobs, but that is about to change as the war in Iraq boosts the protective net business.

"We're seeing a surge in the amount of nets we have to produce," said Barracuda president Ed Arnold.

The high-tech nets are soldiers' security blankets, making them invisible to sight, radar, infrared and thermal detection.

Barracuda expects to make as many as 60,000 nets this year. To do that, the company needs up to 50 more workers.

It is not just the amount of jobs, but the stability that comes with them. Because this is a Department of Defense contract, the jobs cannot go anywhere.

"The phone's been ringing off the hook with people wanting to see 'Are we hiring?'. The answer is 'Yes,'" plant manager Bob Martin said.

Barracuda is accepting applications. The company plans to expand its plant, which could mean work for a local construction company.


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