19 April 2010
News - Other (Good)
2500 More Space-Related Jobs for Florida...
...And 10,000 more nationwide
by G B Leatherwood
The residents of Florida have long been fearful that a new direction for NASA would result in massive unemployment on the Space Coast. But when President Obama spoke on April 15, 2010, he worked to address the fear that thousands of jobs would be lost—not only at NASA but also with the hundreds of small businesses supported by the NASA workforce.

In his remarks on April 15, 2010, Obama said,
I made a very clear promise [to Florida Representative Suzanne Kosmas] that I would help the transition into a new program to make sure that people who are already going through a tough time here in this region were helped. And despite some reports to the contrary, my plan will add more than 2,500 jobs along the Space Coast in the next two years compared to the plan under the previous administration.

Obama did his best to reassure a nervous and skeptical audience that more jobs would be created over the next five years. Did he succeed in allaying Florida’s fears? Moderately, if audience reaction is any indicator. Stony-faced Secret Service agents scanned the small group composed mainly of NASA employees, scientists, and engineers and a few business leaders and politicians whose livelihood and future is at risk with Obama’s retirement of the space shuttle.

Obama said,
We’re going to modernize the Kennedy Space Center, creating jobs as we upgrade launch facilities. And there’s potential for even more jobs as companies in Florida and across America compete to be a part of a new space transportation industry. This holds the promise of generating more than 10,000 jobs nationwide over the next few years. And many of these jobs will be created right here in Florida because this is an area primed to lead in this competition.

I’m proposing a $40 million initiative led by a high-level team from the White House, NASA, and other agencies to develop a plan for regional economic growth and job creation. And I expect this plan to reach my desk by August 15.

Will the good folks of Florida’s Space Coast take heart in his promise? Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, acknowledged by the President for her efforts in salvaging jobs and prestige in her Congressional district (Florida District 24), wrote:

The continuation of Orion, combined with new program offices at Kennedy Space Center, infrastructure upgrades and economic development funding, will help Space Coast jobs, and I am glad the President has heard our call to preserve our highly skilled workforce.

Don’t forget, though, that a speech made by the president does not necessarily guarantee success of this or any other program. The US Congress must support the objectives, plans, and above all, budgets.

In the press release quoted above, Rep. Kosmas also said,

…these are steps in the right direction…but there is still room for improvement.
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G B Leatherwood 19 April 2010
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