Rockledge, Fla. (EDC PR) — On April 1, 2012, CBS’s 60 Minutes broadcast a story about the Space Coast and aftermath of the Space Shuttle retirement. While our economic challenges are real, the story failed to offer a balanced view and this community’s tremendous efforts to mitigate the effects of the Shuttle retirement. Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast President & CEO Lynda Weatherman’s response to the broadcast is below, in a letter sent to the 60 Minutes mailbag.
April 12, 2012
Mr. Scott Pelley
524 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Pelley:
On behalf of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast Board of Directors, I must say you missed the mark in the way the Space Coast was portrayed in your “A Hard Landing” story. While we’re fully aware of our economic challenges and the pain heard in the voices of the workers you interviewed is real, the Space Coast is more than the retirement of the Space Shuttle program.
The Space Coast workforce is a national treasure that attracts world-class companies. In the last 18 months alone, dozens of companies, including internationally renowned firms like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Embraer, and AAR Corp., have established or expanded operations on the Space Coast, generating over 2,300 jobs and over $240 million in capital investment. Harris Corporation announced a $100 million campus renovation – ensuring that this Fortune 500’s world headquarters remains and grows on the Space Coast. New construction currently underway at Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral, and the Air Force Technical Applications Center totals over $360 million in capital investment.
Just two days before your broadcast, the state of Florida reported that Brevard County’s unemployment rate had fallen to 10%, a 6-month decline and the lowest rate since May 2009. New home construction sales are up and taxable sales data shows positive year-over-year increases across all segments – the first time that has happened since 2006. Brevard County’s population has seen a 2% net increase in the past four years, despite job loss.
Kennedy Space Center is not closed for business. Unmanned rockets are still being launched; commercial crew capsule development is underway; and infrastructure construction will accommodate new vehicles and programs. American launch companies will provide access to the International Space Station, utilizing this national lab to its fullest potential. A successful NASA Space Launch System will make human space exploration a reality once again. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station continues to launch next generation satellites, averaging one launch a month this year alone. All happening on the Space Coast.
2,300 new jobs. $240 million corporate capital investment. $360 million in new construction. Lowest unemployment rate in 3 years. Home construction and taxable sales increase. Population gain. New space programs. This is the Space Coast that 60 Minutes viewers didn’t learn about, and the reason we hardly recognized the community portrayed in the story. We challenge you to come back to appreciate the innovation and reinvention of this community. Since the Apollo era, space was not our final frontier – it was only the beginning.
President & CEO