Reporter Gordon Jackson at The Brunswick News broke the story last week that Submarine Base Kings Bay will add 1,000 jobs during the Navy’s $840,000,000 upgrades to extend the base’s importance for the next 40 to 50 years. We’ll be seeing Ohio and Columbia crews for decades.
Gordon’s full story is here.
Why is this a Spaceport Blast story?
We’ve been told by spaceport promoters that we need to build a speculative spaceport to “diversify” because we cannot depend forever on Kings Bay. Well, Jackson’s story certainly puts that worry to bed.
Of course, diversity is a strength. We should work hard to attract employers to our area and to home-grow our own. There’s no proof that a spaceport can create jobs. History proves it’s the opposite. Only NASA and Air Force spaceports create jobs, but only Kennedy/Canaveral creates many. Knowledge that the world’s only successful private commercial spaceport has a total of 30 jobs hasn’t filtered through the closed minds of spaceport proponents. SpaceX isn’t coming to Camden County. The chance to become Cape Canaveral passed us by in the 1960’s.
Previous Camden heart-throbs XCOR and Vector Launch Systems are defunct. Vector’s amateur rocket never became a real rocket. ABL Space’s rented St. Marys gym is still vacant. Do they even have a rocket? Do we want Astra Space’s rockets launching over Camden? Their only two test launches exploded over the Alaska spaceport. The last required removal and remediation of half-a-million pounds of topsoil that had been contaminated by the blast. How would that contamination be removed from Camden’s marshes or Cumberland Island National Seashore? How would it be removed from the Union Carbide Hazardous Landfill sealed cap?
After four years, Camden has signed no public/private partnerships with real rocket companies. Camden taxpayers have paid every dollar. One reason is that the real rocket companies understand how Spaceport Camden will be badly handicapped compared to Wallops, Kennedy/Canaveral, Vandenberg, and yes, even Kodiak. Those spaceports do not launch over people, private property, or a national park. Accident occur over spaceport property, or the ocean. Insurance companies will charge more in Camden County than elsewhere.
We’re blessed with Cumberland Island National Seashore. But Camden officials don’t seem to know how to leverage Cumberland as a tourist attraction. A sample of their neglect is that the “Cumberland Island National Seashore” sign on I-95 North has been almost impossible to read for years. What would it take to fix that? A phone call? Anything more complicated seems well beyond their comprehension. Anything they could accomplish to increase tourism would benefit Camden County businesses and not millionaire spaceport consultants in Texas, Atlanta, or Washington.
Back to Kings Bay. There’s concern that we cannot fill the 1,000 new, highly-skilled positions. Technical classes at the new Technical College will help. But hundreds of jobs will be filled by folks from outside Camden. We need those workers' families to live here. Workers pay property taxes, buy groceries, and eat at restaurants where they live. Those represent the good growth and new jobs that Camden needs.
A paycheck that is spent in Glynn or Nassau Counties means nothing to Camden taxpayers.
Government cannot, nor should it be expected to ignite sustainable economic booms. Economic booms originate in the creativity and efforts of individuals who are not impeded by regulations and political interference. Spaceport speculation cannot come close, even if we had 50 years to wait.
First and foremost, it’s our elected officials' job to keep crime rates low, our public spaces varied and well-managed, and our schools first-rate. They need to keep our property and sales taxes low so we are fundamentally competitive among our neighboring counties. Of course, it never hurts to have grand economic engines like Kings Bay and Cumberland Island in your arsenal.
Camden politicians can best serve the community when they make sure Camden is a desirable, low-cost place to live. We want people to move here because it’s a great place for their families. Only spaceport junkies think that about Kennedy, Kodiak, Vandenberg, and Wallops.