The defense industry has been a significant driver of Nashua’s economy since the early 1950s when Sanders Associates moved to a vacant textile mill building along the Nashua River. Specializing in complex flexible circuit assemblies and specialized printed wiring boards, Sanders Associates was on the cutting edge of technology for military and space programs. The division was purchased by Lockheed Corporation in 1995 and then BAE Systems in 2000. During the last half-century, dozens of high-tech spin offs were formed by ambitious entrepreneurs who got their start with these companies.
Nashua’s defense industry continues to be a worldwide leader in technology and innovation. BAE Systems serves as the largest employer in the city, employing 2,859 people in two locations; one on Canal Street that is within a five minute walk from downtown, and another in south Nashua. However, small to mid-sized defense oriented companies have also been making the city their home for the past half-century. A total of 130 defense contractors were awarded contracts between 2000 and 2012, which is indicative of how robust the defense industry has become in Nashua.