Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bob McDonnell Plans Ten-Fold Funding Increase for Wallops Island Spaceport

Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Attorney General of Virginia, traveled to the Eastern Shore today to tour the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Island. Following the tour he unveiled his plans to further develop the Spaceport during a press conference at Wright’s Restaurant in nearby Atlantic. Joining McDonnell for the tour of the Spaceport were the heads of MARS and Orbital Sciences and community leaders from Accomack.

McDonnell pledged his commitment to making the Spaceport America’s best when he kicked off his gubernatorial campaign in late March. The further development of Wallops Island Spaceport will continue to attract highly-skilled and high-paying jobs to the Eastern Shore, and to other locations around the state. In addition, it will generate millions of dollars in revenue for the region and state. Creating the top commercial spaceport in the country will also increase tourism to Virginia and boost the hospitality industry – a major economic driver in Virginia.

Highlights of McDonnell’s Plan to make Wallops Island the top commercial Spaceport in America include:

  • Supporting a ten-fold increase in base funding for the spaceport operations, bringing them to $1 million annually, and focusing a portion of the funding on a coordinated marketing strategy to attract more companies to invest in and create jobs in Virginia
  • Creating an aerospace business roundtable to bring experts together to plan for Spaceport development and future projects
  • Aggressively recruiting and growing new and existing aerospace companies
  • Promoting space tourism initiatives
  • Supporting scholarships and investment in aerospace related educational programs and workforce training opportunities
  • Putting “Virginia First” – leading the country in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) educational programs and ensuring our workforce is highly skilled in career and technical skills, which the Spaceport relies on

Speaking about his plans to make Wallops Island the top commercial Spaceport in America, McDonnell remarked “In today’s tough economy we must take advantage of every opportunity we have to bring new jobs to Virginia and grow our economy. We need to do that in every region of the Commonwealth. We have a very specific opportunity on the Eastern Shore with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island and Orbital Sciences investment in the Spaceport. Because of the spaceport, 400 new jobs are already being created. As Governor, I will continue the effort to make Wallops Island America’s top commercial Spaceport by encouraging further development, establishing more funding for the operation of the project, and aggressively promoting space tourism initiatives. But it doesn’t stop there. We also have to properly train Virginia’s students so they are ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow that will be available at Wallops Island. Wallops Island will generate hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue for the Commonwealth and it is essential that we do everything we can to promote the Spaceport.”

McDonnell continued, “The Virginia Economic Development Partnership projected Orbital’s Taurus II project at Wallops Island alone will generate 125 six-figure paying jobs and 222 indirect jobs with suppliers and contractors. Additionally, this project, which provides cargo re-supply for the space station, will generate another 93 direct jobs and countless indirect jobs. In revenue it will produce more than $7 million in five years, $13 million in ten and $23 million in 20 years. These are immediate and positive benefits to the Commonwealth. They demonstrate the importance of making certain that we fully utilize and support this great resource for Virginia. For that reason I will support a ten-fold increase in base funding for MARS to bring them to $1 million in funding annually. The Spaceport is the kind of innovative opportunity that is crucial to the economic resurgence we need in Virginia. I’m running to be a jobs governor and I will work tirelessly to support the Spaceport and every job creating opportunity we have in Virginia”

Democratic candidate, Sen. Creigh Deeds sent a letter of support to the Accomack Board of Supervisors Monday supporting the Orbital’s Taurus II rocket project on the island.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

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