Santa Barbara County has officially signed on to the regional partnership to develop a thriving commercial space industry at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the surrounding area.
Members of the County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to join the existing memorandum of understanding between REACH, Cal Poly, Deloitte, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and the 30th Space Wing to support development of a Phase 1 master plan for commercial space on the Central Coast.
The master plan is expected to be completed by spring with the help of Santa Barbara County.
“It’s an important milestone in the county’s economic development efforts,” 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said at the meeting. “These are very high-paying jobs that have real potential in regards to economic development in Santa Barbara County, and we want to be an active partner and participant in this planning effort so that we can help deliver good-paying jobs to the residents of Santa Barbara County.”
The MOU aims to clarify goals and objectives for the industry, facilitate regional economic growth and provide for national security strategic interests through the increased resilience of VAFB assured access to space mission architecture. VAFB could support more space-related activities with companies across the industry, as it already maintains active launch capabilities.
“Economic development and job creation are paramount as we work to recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Board Chair and 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson said. “This is a tangible action the county can take to help lay the groundwork for a growing industry to take root and flourish on the Central Coast.”
In addition, cultivating a commercial space cluster is an initiative of REACH 2030, a 10-year action plan of the organization to spur job growth and create a sustainable regional economy. The goal is 15,000 jobs paying annual salaries of at least $50,000, and a living-wage job for every working household.
“It offers a tremendous opportunity for us to see how, particularly in North County, we can develop in a way that’s supportive of the on-base commercial space launches,” Vice Chair and 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said on Tuesday. “There are a lot of assets particularly at UCSB that can be brought to North County and be brought to this effort, so I’m really enthusiastic.”
Visit https://reachcentralcoast.org/wp-content/uploads/MOU.pdf to read the MOU.
Last year, Vandenberg was among the top three finalists for the U.S. Space Command headquarters. In November 2020, six military locations were selected as prospective headquarters, though Vandenberg was excluded from the list.
Following the announcement, Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, said he was “disappointed and surprised” that Vandenberg was removed from the list of finalists.
“In fact, given our state’s leadership in aerospace engineering and innovation, I’m alarmed that there is not a single California base in the final six contenders,” Rep. Carbajal said at the time. “I’m working with federal and local partners to understand the criteria this decision was based on, and whether it was an objective process or politically motivated.
“If this is simply another attempt by the Trump Administration to bully California, that is unacceptable and I will encourage the incoming Administration to reconsider,” he said. “This isn’t over, and I will continue to make the case that there is no better place than Vandenberg to serve as home to U.S. Space Command.”
The U.S. Space Command will remain at its provisional headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado until the new facilities are built in what will likely take up to six years. Approximately 1,400 military and civilian personnel will work at the future headquarters.