A Spaceport in Camden County?
“Spaceports are often seen as catalysts for local economic development because of the investments that have to be made, and the employment of skilled labor in their operations. The nature of their activities, in terms of safety, security and noise, also means they are located on land that seldom has potential for alternative uses. But as with many other activities, these advantages are offset by high investment and operating costs and a finite demand for space launches. The locating of a [Space]port in a region also has a high visibility, and ipso facto kudo factor for local politicians. These are features that have in the past with other technologies, … often seen excess capacity emerge with a consequential bubble and burst in the industry involved. In addition to natural forces that can lead to excess in infrastructure investment, politicians in particular often have favored locating spaceports in their constituencies, again leading to over capacity as the result of beggar-thy-neighbor effects. There is some evidence that this is taking place regarding spaceports.”
Safety Design for Space Operations, page 978, Firooz Allahdadi, Isabelle Rongier, 2013
From the November 15, 2012 Camden JDA Press Release:
Camden County Joint Development Authority Press Release announced that its board has voted to explore the development of an “Aero-Spaceport” on land currently owned by Union Carbide Corporation and formerly leased to Bayer CropScience. In addition to functioning as a spaceport, the project would allow the city of St. Marys to relocate the existing St. Marys Municipal Airport away from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, the largest employer in the region. Senior Navy officials have stated that the existing airport poses safety and security concerns. The JDA would not directly develop the airport, but will make land within the project boundaries available to a local Airport Authority for land acquisition and airport development.
“We’ve got to work with the state and partner with a lot of people to try to get some tenants for this project because we cannot do this project ourselves,” authority chairman John McDill said.
From the spaceportcamden.us website:
The spaceport would be located "next to the Atlantic Ocean and is surrounded by a large undeveloped buffer zone. Coastal Camden County, Georgia provides a nearly unrestricted launch range for the launch of spacecraft to a wide range of orbits. Orbital inclinations between 31° and 58° can be reached..."
To induce GE to relocate to Boston, the package of direct subsidies, tax abatements, training funds, site improvements, and property acquisition cost incentives underwritten by Massachusetts’ taxpayers is expected to total more than $150 million, or more than $188,000 for each job.
GE is a hugely profitable company and 800 high paying jobs will be welcomed in rich Massachusetts, but only time will tell if the Bay State taxpayers ultimately benefit. In fact, subsidies often go to rich companies who use their leverage to encourage local officials into 'giving the store away' so that they can then claim they've made a "good investment in the future". But incentives often do not produce the promised jobs.
Does the County have bonafide customers and launch providers secured?
Mr. McDill said that Camden County has to have partners because "we cannot do this ourselves" Do we have those partners and tenants?
The property is currently taxed at a value of $715,000.
Why is the County paying $4,800,000, almost 7 times the currently taxed value? Are there competing bids for the property? If so, for what uses?
Why does the County infer it has the dock facility when
that is not a part of the Union Carbide property? What is
the added cost for the dock property?
Is there still a plan to build a new airport on the Union Carbide property (or nearby) and close the existing
St. Marys airport?
How will Camden County afford it if not enough space customer revenue is created?
The potential uses for the spaceport property are already limited by the types of industry previously on the site. What are the possible uses for the spaceport property after additional, unspoiled area has been contaminated by space launch work and large fixed assets?
What will be the sunken development and construction costs in the spaceport that no other industry could use?
Do we really have the wide launch azimuths and 'nearly unrestricted', 'undeveloped buffer zone' being proposed?
Is the site really 'next to the Atlantic Ocean' or just nearby? If the flight zone is more limited than thought, are the probable, interested customers more limited?