COLORADO SPRINGS––For months on end, political and business leaders in Colorado Springs have been fighting for Space Command, the combantant command piece to Space Force.
Last Friday, those advocates got their wish. Sort of.
The Air Force announced Colorado Springs would be the provisional headquarters for the next six years.
“The best possible thing would have been to award it on a permanent basis,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, “The second best thing was, ‘You’re the provisional headquarters.'”
Suthers expected this, he says based on political reasons, the candidacy for cities was reopening, allowing more cities the chance to show why their borders would be a better fit.
Good luck with that, says Reggie Ash.
“When I look at the evaluation criteria I get excited, because each one of those we hit home runs here in Colorado Springs.” Ash said.
Ash is the Chief Defense Development Officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corporation. The agency has been advocating for the headquarters since Space Force was announced. They printed t-shirts for people to wear to President Donald Trump’s rally at the World Arena in February.
A City is eligible based on the following criteria:
- One of the largest 150 Metropolitan areas (Colorado Springs is 79th)
- Located within 25 miles of a military base (There are five military installations within 25 miles of City Hall)
- High livability index according to the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute (Colorado Springs is considered the most desirable city according to US News & World Report)
The Air Force also lists a Evaluation Criteria based on a 100 point scale:
- Mission Related (40 points): Qualified workforce, mutually supporting space agencies
- Infrastructure Capacity (30 points): Facilities, parking, communication bandwidth, anti-terrorism, force protection (AT/FP), security, energy resilience
- Community Support (15 Points): Support for military families based on schools, cost of living and support programs
- Cost to the Air Force (15 points) One time infrastructure and transportation costs
“The basing criteria they put out is basically custom-made for Colorado Springs. We meet all of those criteria.” Suthers said.
The Mayor estimates the cost of moving the infrastructure already in Colorado Springs that supports Space Command would be around $2 billion.
Suthers says, the future of the city’s internet he would put against any other candidate municipality. He admits main corridors such as Highway 24 East and Highway 94 need improvements––the latter of which the Colorado Department of Transportation has a plan in place for.
1,400 military personnel are in the process of being hired right now.
“A lot of the increased development in terms of defense contracting will be fairly spread out through the community, such as it is now. I think we are well positioned to deal with whatever growth this generates.”
Ash sees the workforce in Colorado Springs ready to meet the Department of Defense’s demand as well. He says, there is a substantial space and aerospace industry in the city already and partnerships with the University system are helping bolster that.
Because of it’s regulatory role, Ash says private aerospace companies, defense contractors and other industry employers will want to be close to wherever Space Command ends up.
“While it starts with 1,400, higher-end by the way, military jobs, it results in a whole lot of aerospace industry jobs we have developing right here in Colorado Springs.” he said.