Northwest Florida out of running for Space Command headquarters
PENSACOLA — The only city in heavily military Northwest Florida to formally pursue its interest in becoming the headquarters for U.S. Space Command did not make the cut, according to an announcement from the U.S. Air Force.
The announcement, relayed in a Thursday news release from the Air Force and a more detailed afternoon news release from Space Florida, the state's aerospace economic development agency, said that Pensacola did not make the list of candidate sites for the headquarters.
Pensacola met the criteria set forth earlier this year by the Air Force, which targeted cities within the top 150 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the country, located within 25 miles of a military base and having a minimum score of 50 on the Livability Index published by the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute.
Local government and economic development officials from across the country were invited earlier this year to self-nominate their cities as potential headquarters locations, and communities in 26 states eventually pursued Space Command.
Previously:Pensacola bids for Space Command HQ
Pensacola's interest in hosting Space Command headquarters was punctuated by Mayor Grover Robinson in a letter to John Henderson, the assistant Air Force secretary for installations, environment and energy, and the point man for the Space Command headquarters location search.
In the letter, Robinson told Henderson “I am proud of the long history of strong community partnership with our military services in the Northwest Florida region and look forward to sharing our strengths in mission readiness, technology, infrastructure, support to families and low costs.”
Pensacola's self-nomination was one of eight such nominations from communities around the state. Like the seven other nominations, Pensacola's self-nomination was endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and sent to the Air Force.
Just one of those Florida communities, Brevard County on the state's eastern "Space Coast," made the list of finalist sites for Space Command headquarters. As a next step, according to Space Florida, Brevard County’s Patrick Air Force Base will be participating in the upcoming phase of the selection process.
The other military bases elevated to the next stage of the selection process are the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama; Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; and Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska.
In addition to Brevard County and Pensacola, the other Florida self-nominations came from Jacksonville, Hillsborough County-Tampa, Miami-Dade County, Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Pinellas County and Orange County and Seminole County, who combined their initially separate interests into a single Orlando Region bid.
All eight Florida communities did make it to the Air Force evaluation phase, and sent replies in August to questionnaires from the Air Force designed to assess the individual communities' abilities to host and sustain Space Command headquarters.
Space Command is now headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, and the Air Force is expected to announce its final site selection next year, although facility construction could take as long as six years. Space Command headquarters is expected to have a combined military and civilian workforce of 1,400 people.