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Fort Worth makes its case to be the home of US Space Command

By LUKE RANKER | Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Published: September 10, 2020

FORT WORTH, Texas (Tribune News Service) — Fort Worth wants to land on the short list for another major relocation, but this time it isn’t Amazon or another big tech firm — it’s the U.S. Space Command.

Cowtown has been among the cities the Air Force is considering for the headquarters of the new military command, which was established by the Defense Department in 2019 to protect the United States’ interests in space.

Gov. Greg Abbott nominated Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio in August. Sens. Ted Cruz and Jon Cornyn penned letters to the Secretary of the Air Force voicing support for Texas cities.

A working group submitted its proposal for Fort Worth in late August, according to Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem Jungus Jordan. He said he couldn’t speak in detail about the proposal, but said he thought Fort Worth offered a obvious option for the Air Force to consider.

“I think we’re extremely competitive, mostly because we’re a great place to live,” Jordan said.

Space Command would bring 1,400 military and civilian personnel plus a wide range of contractors and support industries, Jordan said.

The presence of Lockheed Martin and Bell in Fort Worth would be major talking points for city promoters.

Chris Strayer, executive vice president of the Greater Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said he couldn’t discuss the pitch for Space Command, but said aerospace and the connected industries have long been among top employers in the area.

Lockheed Martin had 16,400 employees at the aeronautics plant in Fort Worth and another 3,500 at the Missiles and Fire Control plant in Grand Prairie, the Star-Telegram reported in March 2019. Of those, about 10,000 workers are in high-tech fields such as engineering, company officials said.

“Aerospace and aviation are core industries for Fort Worth,” Strayer said.

Jordan said the pitch had to go beyond the city’s connection to aeronautics and include the city’s central location and historic connection to the military. Fort Worth has a burgeoning tech scene and the aeronautics firms already in the area attract engineers and other science-based graduates.

Criteria for the location was released in May, according to Defense News. It included cities that are:

— In the top 150 largest metropolitan areas. Fort Worth is the 13th largest city in the country.

— Within 25 miles of a military base. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth is about five miles from downtown.

— A livability index score of at least 50 out of 100, based on the AARP’s Public Policy Institute. Fort Worth ranks 53, above Houston and San Antonio’s 50.

While there are other joint bases in the U.S., Jordan pointed out that Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, originally Carswell Air Force Base, was the first Joint Reserve Base. Since Space Command will take on elements of other branches, he said the joint command would be key to its mission.

Fort Worth as a community has long had a good relationship with the military and the air base, Jordan said. He estimated that the area was home to 200,000 military retirees and veterans, arguing North Texas was more friendly to ex-military personnel than other areas. Jordan was born at Carswell Air Force Base and had a long career in the Air Force that included a position at the Pentagon before he retired.

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