People from both the private and public sectors believe the newly renamed Vandenberg Space Force Base has the potential to shape the Central Coast economy, and on June 3, these leaders presented the first phase of their plan.
At the online event, REACH – the Regional Economic Action Coalition, a nonprofit economic development organization based in San Luis Obispo – discussed the progress they are making along with Vandenbergs 30th and the California governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development make Vandenberg Space Force Base a motor for the local economy.
“We can be a technology leader in one of the most beautiful places on earth,” said Joan Hartmann, district manager of Santa Barbara, whose district includes the base and parts of nearby Lompoc.
The base formerly known as Vandenberg Air Force Base was renamed on May 15 to better reflect the base’s focus on military and civilian space launches.
The space industry is about $ 400 billion annually with potential to exceed $ 1 trillion in the next decade, said Andrew Hackleman, chief operating officer at REACH.
“Space and this industry face are so important to the future of our nation, but also to the state of California … and that’s a big driver of the potential we see,” said Hackleman.
On the Central Coast, Vandenberg provides 14,000 jobs and generates $ 4.5 billion annually for the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, according to a recent study commissioned by REACH and conducted by Cal Poly researchers. Nationwide, the base produced 18,000 jobs and sales of $ 5.8 billion.
The Space Force base includes approximately 100,000 acres of land with potential for growth, Hackleman said. With the help of its partners, REACH aims to create 2,000 jobs per year and generate more than 6 billion US dollars in economic activity over the next ten years.
“This is just our scenario, but it can go higher,” Hackleman said.
The plan drawn up by REACH during the Zoom event has three main goals for Vandenberg: increasing commercial activity; Investing in infrastructure to improve transport across the region; and the development of a skilled workforce.
Hackleman said there was already progress in developing a skilled workforce as GO-Biz – the governor’s office for business and economic development – granted $ 30 million to create over 900 jobs in the space industry, some of which will be on the central coast.
“The master plan is just a great development opportunity and brings together so many of these priorities for California, and it’s a collaborative effort that will catalyze future investments in the space technology industry here,” said Dee Dee Meyers, director of GO-Biz.
According to Meyers, 85% of all venture capital invested in space technology companies goes to companies headquartered in California.
“This new renaissance in space technologies and the rapid expansion of commercialization here show once again how well California is positioned to take advantage of this moment,” said Meyers.
According to REACH, several other projects are underway, including structural improvements to Vandenberg’s launch ramps and off-base roads.
The plan also includes helping more private companies working on the grassroots.
“We envision a space that is more accessible to the community, more accessible to our partners, and yet close to launchability,” said Col. Joe Tringe of Space Launch Delta 30 in Vandenberg.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong called the plan a “win-win” situation that leverages talent on the Central Coast and its universities.
Almost 500 Cal Poly graduates went into the aerospace and defense industries last year, according to Armstrong. Of these, around 340 remained in California.
“This is a special part of the world that can thrive and grow for decades to come,” said Armstrong.