“Ground Control – Boca Chica … we are a go for lift off.”
It won’t likely be Gov. Rick Perry uttering that message, but Perry did, today, announce the State will offer $2.3 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to land SpaceX’s commercial launch facility around Boca Chica Beach. Perry explained that approval is contingent upon the agreement of all involved agencies and proper processing of required permits.
CEO Elon Musk thanked Gov. Perry and shared about his plans to connect Texas’ Gulf to the collective cosmos. “SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world’s first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions.” Musk said. “We appreciate the support of Gov. Perry and numerous other federal, state, and local officials who have partnered with us to make this vision a reality.” Musk added that “… this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to eth south Texas area.”
Perry then discussed the project’s potential financial impact, “… This facility will create 300 jobs, and pump $85 million in capital investment into the local economy,” Perry said. “Texas has been on the front of our nation’s space exploration efforts for decades, so it is fitting that SpaceX has chosen our state as they expand the frontiers of commercial space flight,” Perry said. “In addition to growing the aerospace industry in Texas, SpaceX’s facility will provide a myriad of opportunities for STEM education in South Texas, and inspire a new generation of Texas engineers and innovators.” Perry noted that the State will add $13 million to the TEF investment ($2.3 million) to support developing the spaceport’s infrastructure.
State Sen. Eddie Lucio also expressed his excitement at the announcement and shared about what this development means to the Valley. “I couldn’t be happier about (the) announcement, nor more excited about the possibilities this new Texas partnership with SpaceX will produce,” Lucio said. “SpaceX’s future launch site will soon become an invaluable economic driver for South Texas. With this site comes tens of millions of dollars in capital investment in our community annually, and hundreds of well-paying jobs over the next decade.”
For Lucio, this announcement is a major milestone, marking the Valley’s initial foray into space exploration. “I hope the new launch site will propel a dramatic cultural change in our region of the state, encouraging more of our children to pursue careers in engineering and science. Future generations of South Texas residents will look to this site and know that not even the sky is the limit for where their dreams may take them,” he said.
State Rep. Rene Oliveira, too, issued a statement this week that shared praise for SpaceX and promise for the communities he serves. “We are blessed by a great geographical location, overwhelming local support and a generous incentives package from the state,” Oliveira said. “We worked hard at every level to create the best chance possible to bring the project home. It underscores that our local entities are working well together to bring new opportunities to our region.”
House Bill 2623 authored by Oliveira and passed in 2013 allows Cameron County to temporarily close an area of beach for launches and space flight activities with approval of the General Land Office. Oliveira also worked closely with state budget writers to garner a maximum amount of incentives which total about $15 million, according to county records.
Oliveira then acknowledged how this incentive package was a joint effort by elected officials who recognized a vision and had commitment to see the proposal through. “The incentives package received the strong backing of state leadership. The bill was about protecting the citizens’ access to Texas beaches while clearing way for SpaceX to operate in Cameron County,” Oliveira said.
“We have demonstrated to the space industry that we want to be at the forefront of its development in Texas,” he said.  “This is a landmark announcement for the Rio Grande Valley.”
Sasha Heller