Some good news for Blue Origin about its plan to build rockets in Florida:
Brevard County commissioners this morning approved incentive packages totaling $10.5 million for space company Blue Origin and aviation company Embraer.
Both companies will receive grants from the North Brevard Economic Development Zone — $8 million for Blue Origin for a project at Exploration Park just south of Kennedy Space Center, and $2.5 million for Embraer for a project at the Spaceport Commerce Park in south Titusville, near Space Coast Regional Airport.
Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos is set to make his plans clear on Sept. 15 during an appears on the Space Coast.
The North Brevard Economic Development Zone board has approved economic incentives for Blue Origin to build a facility in the county and for Lockheed Martin to expand its operations there.
The board voted 8-1 to approve $8 million in incentives for rocket company Blue Origin. The company — being referred to by the code name “Project Panther” — is considering building a 330-employee facility at Exploration Park, near the Kennedy Space Center.
Separately, the board voted 9-0 in favor of a $1.735 million grant for Lockheed Martin Corp., which is considering a 300-employee facility at 1515 Chaffee Drive in Titusville.
Lockheed on Tuesday also will ask the Brevard County Commission to consider property tax abatements totaling $397,043 a year over a 10-year period for its project….
The incentives for both projects would come back to the zone board for a second vote once deals are worked out with the companies. Additionally, the Brevard County Commission must approve the $8 million commitment to Blue Origin….
Lockheed Martin said its project involves its Space Systems Company operations.
The proposed Chaffee Drive expansion is on the site of an Astrotech facility. Lockheed Martin in August completed its acquisition of Astrotech Space Operations business of Astrotech Corp, including operations in Titusville and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
A political update from the Florida Space Development Council.
Space Coast Economic Development Efforts at Risk in Election
August 14, 2014 – State-level support for economic development is important, but it is only part of the story when it comes to inducing companies to relocate or expand in the state. Local governments are essential providers of financial incentives, and can be key players for the state’s outreach and marketing to targeted industries. Florida’s Space Coast has been among the state’s most aggressive and successful communities for economic development, as evidenced by the vibrant aerospace/defense industry in the Melbourne area.
So, the Aug. 26 Primary election of Brevard County commissioners is of concern to economic development advocates who hope the county will step up its efforts to attract new space and aerospace businesses in the wake of SpaceX’s decision to move its commercial launch operations to Texas. Some commission candidates, if elected, are expected to seek deep cuts to the county’s economic development budget, a prospect that should worry residents eager for space industry expansion.
Some 15 candidates are competing for two open commission seats. Click here for a series of interviews with many of them. FSDC will not endorse any candidates, but we do urge everyone to pay attention, learn about the candidates, and vote on Aug. 26 (or before with early voting.
The Florida Space Coast, hard hit by the economic meltdown and the end of the space shuttle program, got a couple of big shots in the arm on Wednesday as officials broke ground on two technology centers.
Gov. Rick Scott was on hand for groundbreaking ceremonies for the new $24 million Embraer Engineering and Technology Center USA at Melbourne International Airport. The governor also attended the groundbreaking on $100 million Harris Technology Center in nearby Palm Bay. Both projects represent expansions of existing operations in those locations backed by the financial support of state and local governments.
Florida Today reports that Brevard Workforce has shifted the focus of the work it is doing for laid off shuttle workers under a $15 million emergency grant from the federal government designed to fund on-the-job training:
Brevard Workforce requested and received permission to spend most of the money on more basic career services, like how to search for a job, write resumes, interview and network.
Various Florida agencies put up more than $5.7 million in “incentive value and financing” to help lure XCOR to set up a production facility and operational base for its Lynx space plane in the Sunshine State, according to the head of the state’s space development organization.
The funding and incentives are being put up by Space Florida, Brevard Workforce, Enterprise Florida Inc., and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, according to a presentation by Space Florida President Frank DiBello during the announcement of the deal last month.
Florida Today reports that XCOR will establish its Lynx production facilities and an operational base on the Florida Space Coast, most likely at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center:
The California company expects to create 152 jobs with this operations and manufacturing business, which it will announce at 10 a.m. on Aug. 23 at the Astronaut Encounter Theater at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Space Florida, the state’s space economic development group, has committed to investing up to $3 million in XCOR. And in late July, Brevard County commissioners approved $182,400 in incentives to help the company open a facility at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility. According to the company, the project would include hangar and flight operations, vehicle manufacturing, engine assembly and space tourism elements.
UPDATE: Florida Today reports that Brevard County commissioners approved the matching grant by a 3-1 vote, with Trudie Infantini voting against it because she opposed up-front cash payments in advance of job creation. Assistant County Manager Stockton Whitten says that traditional property tax breaks cannot be used in this case because XCOR’s facility would be on Kennedy Space Center property, which is federal land outside of county control.
XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson was in Florida today to discuss the possibility of XCOR building and operating Lynx suborbital vehicles on the Space Coast:
XCOR Aerospace Inc., known until now as Project Planet as the company made its way through economic development channels in Florida, will reveal possible plans for building rocket engines and a suborbital spacecraft on the Space Coast in an appearance before the Brevard County Commission.
The commission is scheduled to approve matching funds for a nearly $1 million state grant to lure the company.
Brevard County commissioners have recently approved the Economic Development Plan for the North Brevard Economic Development Zone. The plan focuses $18 million in resources over 10 years to help develop the area, which has been hard hit by the end of the space shuttle program. A summary of the plan follows that is taken from the plan.
Projected layoffs affecting North Brevard have impact of $100 million in annual income
Each job lost at KSC has a ripple effect of an additional 1.8 jobs
More than 50 percent of land in North Brevard is exempt from property taxes and therefore what would be key commercial and industrial areas are unable to be developed.
North Brevard Area has 20 percent of the population, but only one tenth of the county’s taxable value.
Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have introduced legislation to designate all of Brevard County as a HUBZone, making small businesses eligible for economic assistance in an area hard hit by the end of the space shuttle program.
The Shuttle Workforce Revitalization Act of 2102 aims to help the area around the Kennedy Space Center to help retain its skilled workforce by encouraging the development of small businesses. Approximately 9,000 people were laid off when the shuttle program ended last year. The designation would remain in place until not earlier than Jan. 1, 2020.
According to the HUBZone website:
Small businesses in high-unemployment, low-income areas can receive an economic boost from the HUBZone contracting program. The HUBZone program provides contracting assistance to small businesses located in economically distressed communities, referred to as Historically Underutilized Business Zones, or HUBZones, to promote job growth, capital investment and economic development in these areas, including Indian reservations.
The program’s benefits for HUBZone-certified companies include competitive and sole source contracting, a 10 percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities. The Federal government has a goal of awarding 3 percent of all dollars for Federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified concerns.
There’s some potentially good news for the hard-hit Space Coast.
A “rocket propulsion systems” company is considering locating its facilities in Titusville, a move that would create more than 2,200 direct and spin-off jobs, according to Florida Today.
The identity of the company is being kept secret, with it being referred to as “Project Speed” in city and county documents. Titusville, Brevard C0unty and Space Florida are working to put together a package of tax incentives for the company, which is also considering three other sites outside of Florida. (more…)
During a visit to the John F. Kennedy Space Center today, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced a grant of $15 million to assist approximately 3,200 workers who will be impacted by the impending retirement of NASAâ€™s Space Shuttle Program. The grant will impact workers from major aerospace contractors, including ASRC Aerospace Corp., Boeing and United Space Alliance.
It will likely be 2011 before Brevard County’s beleaguered real estate industry recovers, a process slowed by the county’s reliance on sectors hit hard by the ongoing recession, a leading Florida economist said Tuesday.
“The Space Coast is fairly weak, or weaker than average, because of the contraction in the space program and the dependence on tourism and retirement,” Orlando-based economist Hank Fishkind said in a telephone conference Monday discussing the findings of his annual three-year economic forecast. “Unfortunately, those are the sectors that are most affected by this particular recession we’re having in the United States.”