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2011-06-29 digital edition

Space company looking for Willacy County site, judge says

Text: T T

A space technology multimillion dollar company is looking for a site to build a satellite launching pad and why not in Willacy County?

That is what County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. is eagerly hoping to attract to convert the agricultural-based economy of the county into a high tech one.

“This company is looking to build a commercial launch site for a number of clients such as ATT,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “They are already doing jobs for NASA in Florida, but are now interested in having their own site.”

Gonzales said he has been working on such a project for the last four months, hoping the company will build its facility in Willacy County.

He said the company, which he declined to name citing confidentiality, is planning to spend $50 million and to create up to 200 jobs initially.

Ideally, Gonzales said they are looking for a site near bay waters to launch satellites.

“The are looking for a 50- acre site and a place that is not densely populated,” he said. “If they do come here they will change Willacy County economy from agriculture to a highly technological area.”

Gonzales said the project the company is hoping to build has nothing to do with the proposed spaceport facility another company was planning to bring to South Texas.

That project to build a 25,000-acre spaceport in the north east part of Kenedy County never materialized.

Indiana-based Space Access was turned down by the Kenedy Memorial Foundation and decided to bring the project to Port Mansfield where they built a warehouse on an isolated area on the back on the county airport.

Gonzales described that project as a bottle rocket thing compared to the one he is now talking about.

“This is going to benefit everybody in Willacy County,” he said “This could bring today’s unemployment rate to practically zero.”

The satellite launching site project will be discussed at today’s special meeting of the Willacy County Commissioners’ Court.

Another item on today’s agenda calls for approving the final expenditures of the Willacy County Day in Austin a number of city, county and guests made to promote the county at the State Capitol in early April.

The trip and a one-night stay at the Drury Inn & Suites in Austin for about a dozen people was financed by private citizens and businesses that donated money for the trip.

The meeting will start at 1: 30 p. m. today in the commissioners courtroom at 576 W. Main St.

2011-06-29 / Front Page

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