LA: House-Passed NASA Bill is Big Win for the Region
4 Oct, 2010
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the NASA Authorization Act by a vote of 304-118, with Gulf Coast legislators sticking together in bi-partisan support of the aerospace corridor from Texas to Florida. The House acted favorably on the same bill the Senate passed unanimously in August, S. 3729. The measure sets a bold new path for future space activities, advocated by Greater New Orleans, Inc. and other partners since spring of this year.
Michael Hecht, President & CEO of GNO, Inc., the regional economic alliance states, "We are thankful to our Louisiana delegation for engaging on this federal policy priority that will rebuild 1,500-plus jobs at Michoud long term as the space shuttle program retires and new space exploration ramps up in the coming years. This was a solid team effort by aerospace stakeholders within our region and across the state line."
Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana spoke in favor of the bill on the House Floor and released this statement, "The legislation will ensure that we preserve America's superiority in space exploration and that Michoud remains a vital part of our space program. This bill contains provisions that are vital to Michoud and jobs in our region, including the continued development of the Orion crew exploration vehicle, an accelerated heavy-lift vehicle, and the refurbishing of ET-94 shuttle tank."
Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Space Sub-Committee, added his perspective, "With this bipartisan reauthorization bill, we're not only going to start making the changes we need to save Michoud, we're going to ensure these jobs stay in Louisiana and bring NASA back in line with its original mission as the world's leader in human space flight."
The timely House action resulted from a steady grassroots campaign among business allies from space-based communities who diligently pressed for NASA legislation for weeks leading up to the midnight vote, just as the new federal year begins. The business advocacy efforts culminated in a joint DC trip to make the rounds on Capitol Hill, including Michoud and Stennis representatives.
"Supporting the Vision for Space Exploration is important for U.S. leadership and economic vitality. It can inspire our youth and promote the study of science, math, technology and engineering," said Glade Woods, former chairman of Partners for Stennis and Mississippi lead on the recent business trip to DC. Woods adds, "This bill will drive the development of advanced technologies, materials and products to make the United States more competitive and secure. Through NASA-Stennis Space Center and NASA-Michoud Assembly Facility, this vision benefits all of us who live and work in the region."
The news of the NASA legislation has created renewed optimism throughout the business community.
"Both Michoud and Stennis are significant components of our local economy, as our parish serves as a focal point in the I-10 Technology Corridor," said Brenda Reine Bertus, Executive Director of St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation. "Technology-based businesses continue to move into our area as a direct result of NASA's presence in the market, bringing high-paying jobs and quality growth."
Dr. Bobby Savoie, President of Geocent and Chairman of the Stennis - Michoud Aerospace Corridor Alliance stated "This action by Congress is a great step forward. It ensures that the Michoud facility in Louisiana and the Stennis facility in Mississippi will continue to be an invaluable part of the U.S. space program. But this means more than jobs; it's about continuing our great heritage in technological leadership for a new generation of Americans. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Senators and Congressmen from the states of LA and MS, who came together in a true bi-partisan fashion to provide much needed leadership that secured passage of this critical legislation. We still have a lot of work to do but we now have a solid platform from which to move forward."
The bill awaits the President's signature, a move expected based on statements from NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, following the bill's passage, "We thank the members of Congress for their thoughtful deliberations about NASA's future over the past months. This important vote in the House of Representatives on a comprehensive NASA authorization charts a vital new future for the course of human space exploration. We are grateful that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 received strong support in the House after its clearance in the Senate, and can now be sent on to the President for his signature."
Subsequently, Congress must pass related appropriations measures that will adequately fund the NASA programs as now authorized. It is expected that these spending measures will be addressed when Congress reconvenes in November. "GNO, Inc. pledges to do its part until the policy work is done and Michoud is in a strong position to participate in the new pipeline of aerospace jobs for our regional economy," states Dale Benoit, Chairman of the Public Policy for GNO, Inc.
About Greater New Orleans, Inc.
The GNO, Inc. Mission is to serve as the catalyst for wealth creation in the Greater New Orleans region. GNO, Inc. will accomplish this by pursuing an aggressive agenda of business development - marketing the region - and product development - improving regional business conditions through policy, workforce and research initiatives.
The GNO, Inc. Vision is for the Greater New Orleans region to fulfill its potential as one of the best places in the country to grow a company, and raise a family. The ultimate indication of success for GNO, Inc. will be the presence of a robust and growing middle class in southeastern Louisiana.
More information can be found at www.gnoinc.org.