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We all win if Oscoda wins Michigan space race

I’ve heard some disappointment around town this week that Alpena wasn’t selected as the possible site for the proposed horizontal space launch facility.

None of that disappointment was heard from this corner.

I celebrate the announcement with our neighbors to the south, in Oscoda, as I know full well that the designation could very well still mean great things for all of us who call Northeast Michigan home.

No one can argue with the fact that Oscoda, particularly by using part of the former Wurtsmith Air Force base, makes perfect sense for such a facility. Much of the infrastructure important to such a facility already exists there.

And there already is a natural bridge between Oscoda and Alcona County, in particular, and southern Alpena County, to a lesser degree.

Take Kalitta Air, for example, and look at where many of its employees are traveling to work from. One will quickly be amazed at the number of folks traveling between Alpena, Ossineke, Harrisville, Lincoln, Hubbard Lake, and points south to Oscoda each day already. If a spaceport eventually becomes a reality, imagine how many more will be making that trip.

And let’s not forget that the horizontal launch pad is but one of the segments the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association hopes to secure for Michigan in the future.

A few weeks ago, association members announced they were accepting letters from communities interested in housing a control center for the spaceport. And the group also hopes to eventually secure a vertical launch pad, as well.

Rogers City Mayor Scott McLennan had a great perspective about Tuesday’s announcement when he talked with reporter Crystal Nelson.

“I’m grateful a community like Oscoda could be considered. It’s a great site,” he said, noting the base has the infrastructure to support such a project.

As for Rogers City, he said that, while it didn’t work for them this time, there always is a tomorrow.

He said the city was always looking for new economic opportunities and will continue to pursue all economic leads aggressively.

The truth is, all of us benefitted Tuesday with the news. And, if we are smart, all of the communities in Northeast Michigan could play a part in making the spaceport a success down the road.

Officials with the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association point to a Morgan Stanley estimate that revenue from the global space industry today is $350 billion, but, by 2040, it could reach $1.1 trillion.

Figures like that cannot be ignored.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.

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