NEWTON — What began as an innovative concept in a small New Jersey garage has evolved into a multimillion dollar southern New Hampshire company that aims to prevent water-based terrorist strikes such as the 2000 attack on the USS Cole.
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and her Democratic counterpart Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who both serve on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee, were on hand when Halo Maritime Defense Systems dedicated its new Technical Development Center in Newton.
“I think it’s an opportunity for a company that’s going to grow and put people to work here in New Hampshire,” Ayotte said. “But they’re also working on this great barrier that can have great application for protecting our homeland. And also you see they’re working with a country like Israel to protect our allies too, and our critical assets, so I think it’s wonderful to have them here.”
Halo CEO Paul Jensen echoed those sentiments.
“To think that a small company in Newton, New Hampshire, is serving our Navy and our most strategic allies on the very front lines of the global war on terror is pretty amazing,” Jensen said.
The U.S. Navy, has a contract with Halo to develop the top technology currently available to protect its assets.
“Right now, we’re doing research and development contracts with (the U.S. Navy) that are a couple million dollars, and that will grow as the company grows,” said Justin Bishop, Halo’s founder and chief technical officer.
“We’re looking to expand as our orders come in, and we need a larger facility and need to add on more personnel, so we could be talking about 20, 30, 40 more employees,” he said. “We have the land here to expand, so we can always build up or build out of the building.”
In terms of Halo choosing the Granite State to base its technology development program, Shaheen credited the state’s skilled workforce and Newton’s proximity to the University of New Hampshire, where Halo can tap into the school’s extensive maritime research and engineering programs.
“Fortunately for us, this company came to New Hampshire because of all the benefits the state has to offer, but the kind of innovation here is reflective of innovation we’re seeing across New Hampshire,” Shaheen said. “What they’re doing here is really groundbreaking in terms of the potential to protect our maritime security, our Navy, our other maritime assets, whether it be ports or oil or gas installations ... and it’s really exciting to have them here in New Hampshire.”