The newest Guardians of our galaxy will not come from outer space. Rather, they will come from closer to home — Florida.
And the location at Patrick Space Force Base near Cape Canaveral for the U.S. Space for Training Readiness Command is expected to bring significant uplift to the central Florida Economy.
Having the STARCOM headquarters in Florida will have a “fairly significant economic impact” on the state, said Terrence McCaffrey, the vice president of military and defense programs at Enterprise Florida.
“It’s going to be a net positive,” the retired U.S. Air Force colonel said.
Selection of the site was announced Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Patrick base, which is about 26 miles south of the launch site that sent the first man to the moon, will train U.S. Space Force (USSF) Guardians to fight and win military missions in space.
And though the official numbers have yet to be tallied, the installation is sure to bring an economic boost to the Atlantic coast community, said Enterprise Florida’s McCaffrey.
He predicted at least 450 people will be needed to operate the facility. So, it’s likely, he said, that about 450 families will move to the area to fill 350 jobs at the headquarters and 100 jobs at Space Delta 10.
Space Delta 10 is another wing of the Space Force that will conduct and support war games for training at the base.
The local economy also will benefit from additional government facilities that are expected to be built at the headquarters, he said. Military contracts create additional positive impacts on local businesses, he said.
Some local businesses agreed.
“This will affect everyone around here,” said Mary Snell, who works at the Upside Down Café a restaurant a few minutes from Patrick Space Force Base. “It will mean more traffic and more people in the area, and business is already so good.”
Business also is good at the Salty Bagel and Grill on Satellite Beach, about three miles from the base, said employee Declan Daleiden. The eatery has two more locations within a 15-minute drive.
“We stay pretty busy already, but I’m sure it will be good for business,” Daleiden said, referring to the addition of STARCOM to the area. “So, this will just increase our sales and revenue.”
Space and aeronautics military spending accounted for 21.5% of Brevard County’s economy in 2022, according to Enterprise Florida. The economic impact of this spending was estimated to be more than $6.75 billion last year.
Enterprise Florida is a public-private partnership between Florida businesses and government leaders that promotes economic development.
DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, has made campaign stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina since the Space Force announcement.
“From Project Mercury to today’s privatized spaceflight, Americans look to Florida’s Space Coast to see history in the making,” DeSantis said in a statement issued by his office. “We are honored to host the Space Training and Readiness Command headquarters and continue Florida’s history as America’s gateway to outer space.”
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung did not respond to a request for comment.
Space Force was created as the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces in December 2019 under former President Donald Trump. Space Force members are called guardians, as members of the U.S. Army are called soldiers, members of the Air Force are airmen and members of the Navy are called sailors.
The STARCOM headquarters will be the Space Force equivalent to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, sometimes called “air university,” McCaffrey said.
That’s where all the training and doctrine development happens for creating airmen for the Air Force.
“So we have now basically the birthplace of the Guardians,” McCaffrey said.
Getting the STARCOM headquarters in Florida was a “big team effort across Florida,” he said.
“This didn’t just happen,” McCaffrey said. “There’ve been a lot of people working to gain this entity and we’re pretty excited about it.”
Florida was selected as the location of the headquarters after competing against California and Colorado.
“Enterprise Florida and Space Florida worked with the Pentagon, Congress, the Air Force and the Space Force to garner them to get to come to Florida,” McCaffrey said.
Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez serves as chairman of the board of Space Florida, a state agency that works to boost economic development related to aerospace activities. She also played a role in the success, McCaffrey said.
“She met with the Air Force and Air Force officials and advocated for Florida as the best location,” he said. “After about two years of work, we ended up winning. So, it’s a pretty big deal.”
Nuñez indicated that Florida clearly had “the right stuff” to be chosen.
“Florida’s selection as the STARCOM headquarters underscores the state’s exceptional assets and its vital contribution to the nation’s space endeavors,” Nuñez said in a prepared statement.
She said Florida’s existing aerospace infrastructure, military installations and top academic institutions were key.
The choice sets Florida apart in a “critical role in advancing the nation’s space and military capabilities,” Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, said in a prepared statement.
“This decision by the U.S. Air Force reflects the strategic importance of Florida in advancing national security and defense in space.”
The campaign to bring STARCOM to Florida also included: Florida Defense Support Task Force, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida High Tech Corridor, Florida Institute of Technology, National Center for Simulation, Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation, University of Central Florida, and many other state and local entities, according to DeSantis’ office.