HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The space command is anticipated to bring about 1,600 jobs over a 6 year period. But that’s not counting the businesses that would inevitably pop up around it to support the mission. And it would be long term.
That kind of investment can be a shot in the arm for a local economy.
Huntsville area leaders have long argued the area is more than able to accomodate the needs of space command.
“The end result is that you have 1600 workers, you have an industry here that fits very well into the mesh in what we already have,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “We are space, we do space, we do space on a regular basis. So having the space command here, is just an added element, to what we have with missile defense, what we have with the army’s space and missile tracking system, what we have with army aviation. All of that fits into Research Park.”
But the process to select a HQ has been dogged by claims of political interference.
In 2019, then-Senator Doug Jones said congress would have to watch it closely to prevent it from becoming a quote “bureaucratic, expensive nonsense nightmare.”
In March 2020, the process was delayed. The search was scrapped, and the national competition started over.
And in May, we learned the HQ would remain in Colorado springs for at least 6 years.
That’s when Jones told us the search had become too political.
“All of a sudden the department of defense decided they are going to reopen the bids so to speak,” he said. “The secretary of defense acknowledged that there was political pressure from various members of congress to open it back up.”
Fast forward to Wednesday when we learned Redstone Arsenal was chosen as the preferred location.
Leaders in Colorado Springs said the recommendation was originally meant for their city, but a different decision came from the White House.
“The motive would be who ‘remain my political friends throughout this process and who should I reward as a consequence,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
Wednesday, Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville said while President Trump may have played a part, he thinks Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett had a say in the decision.
“I’m sure he had a small part in it, maybe even more than a small part,” he said. “I don’t know the ladder in which the approval goes through. But just talking to the secretary of the air force today, she had a lot to do with it.”
The day before the decision was announced, Secretary Barret and five other senior air force officials announced their resignations.
In Alabama, many leaders released statements thanking Senator Richard Shelby for his role in securing the final decision.
As for Colorado, politico reports the state’s congressional delegation has already started lobbying president-elect Biden to reverse course.