How Alabama Benefits from the Decision at Blue Origin to Build Rocket Engines in Huntsville Rocket City, Alabama
The recent announcement by Blue Origin is all set to bring in 342 new jobs in the manufacturing sector in lieu of the $200 million investment to build a rocket engine in Alabama.
Blue Origins, a privately funded aerospace company, is owned by Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame and has its headquarters in Washington. The company is known for its efforts in making access to space for the people at relatively low costs.
In Alabama, a 200,000 square foot plant in Huntsville is being set up to manufacture BE-4 engine that is going to be used in Vulcan, a rocket that is slated to be launched by 2019 by the United Launch Alliance. The BE-4 engine could also be used in Blue Origin’s indigenous rocket, New Glenn which is scheduled for launch by 2020.
Other states under consideration included Washington, Florida, and Texas before Alabama was chosen mainly due to its workforce capabilities and Huntsville’s rightful claim to the nickname of “rocket city” since it already houses Marshall Space Flight Center of NASA.
The manufacturing facility will be located in Cummings Research Park, and the average salaries for the 300 plus jobs it will bring in is said to be around $75,000. A large pool of technical, skilled workforce is a key advantage with Alabama.
How will Alabama benefit?
The development is likely to bring some cheer to the employment scenario. While some estimates state unemployment is at 4.3 %, some studies estimate 46% of Americans think they are underemployed. More than 6 million jobs are not filled because of a lack of trained workforce.
About 46% of employers, according to the 2016 Manpower Group report, had difficulty filling skilled jobs. In this light, Blue Origin’s manufacturing facility is a welcome development in Alabama which may reap the benefits in terms of a profit to the tune of $43 million besides $633 million in salaries.
The laws in Alabama are aligned with skilled workforce development and job creation. Tax credits and other benefits await Blue Origin which will receive up to $8 million for creating employment opportunities and $30 million credit over the next ten years for investing in the state.
The way ahead for other states to also cash in on such investments is to develop skill-based training programs for their workforce.