NASA marked the official transfer of 1.6 million square feet of facility space from the U.S. Army to the space agency's John C. Stennis Space Center, poising the south Mississippi site for years of major expansion.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver attended Wednesday's transfer ceremony, which increased available Stennis facility space by about 33 percent. The space now will be used to attract employers that complement NASA's mission, to support new government tenants and to offer added space for onsite work.
"Stennis Space Center is a major economic engine for this region," Stennis Space Center Director Patrick Scheuermann said. "This property transfer assures Stennis will not only remain an economic force for years to come but will grow even stronger and have an even greater impact on its surrounding communities."
A study earlier this year calculated Stennis Space Center has a $616 million direct economic impact within a 50-mile radius and accounts for a conservative estimate of 23,000 local area jobs. That translates to about $1.03 billion of personal income in 2010.
A dozen tenants already occupy the former Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant facilities, including Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the Government Printing Office, the Department of Energy, Boe-Tel, the Qinetiq North America Inc. Technology Solutions Group and the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage.
Ground was broken for construction of the Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant in 1978. It opened in 1983 as the most sophisticated munitions-manufacturing facility in the nation. Plant production of 155mm howitzer projectiles and grenade bodies ended in 1990. In 1992, the U.S. Army began leasing space to tenants. The facility was designated for closure in 2005 and officially closed in 2009. It was transferred to NASA ownership almost exactly two years later.
Stennis Space Center is a unique federal city, home to more than 30 resident agencies, including federal, state, academic and private organizations and several technology-based companies. The federal city approach allows these resident agencies to share the cost of owning and operating the south Mississippi facility, making it more cost-effective for each entity to accomplish its independent mission.
In 2009, Stennis Space Center was designated a "project ready" site for high-tech businesses seeking a new location. It was the first Mississippi site to gain the technology park certification. The designation identifies locations that are ready to go and relatively risk-free for businesses. Sites must meet high criteria in such areas as availability of infrastructure, utilities, transportation and facilities.
For information about Stennis, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/.
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