The City Commission is slated to vote on an incentive agreement Wednesday among the Harlingen Economic Development Corp., Cameron County and SpaceX in the space exploration firm’s plan to develop the world’s first commercial and private vertical launch site at Boca Chica Beach. The vote is scheduled for the commission’s regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. inside City Hall, 118 E. Tyler Ave.
The agreement provides for a job creation grant from Harlingen EDC to Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies of $450,000 to be made in three annual installments of $150,000, beginning 30 days after SpaceX hires its first full-time employee in the area.
The agreement specifies that SpaceX will hire at least 100 full-time employees with an average salary of $55,000 within the first three years of operation and that it will maintain these positions for at least five years. The agreement stipulates that 10 percent of new jobs shall be filled by residents of Harlingen.
In a press release that the city issued Monday, spokesman David Ralph quoted members of the community and Cameron County regarding SpaceX’s selection of Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County as follows:
• Cledia R. Hernandez, associate vice president of Corporate & Community Education for Texas State Technical College Harlingen, said that SpaceX will stimulate students’ interest in science, math and technology at all levels of education. The college already operates the Challenger Learning Center featuring space exploration concepts. “Together, TSTC and SpaceX will provide training programs that will produce skilled technical engineers and manufacturing professionals worthy of top salaries,” she said.
• Mark Kroll, dean of the School of Business at the University of Texas at Brownsville, who also serves on the Board of Directors for Valley International Airport in Harlingen, said that SpaceX and United Launch Alliance could become the foundation for an aerospace manufacturing cluster similar to automobile parts factories along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s possible that SpaceX would want to build rocket components “at various points around the Rio Grande Valley,” he said. The SpaceX construction at Boca Chica Beach and other potential sites will mean more work for contractors and subcontractors, he added.
Emma Perez- Trevino