Budget conference: Space Florida lands another $6M
Stock image via Adobe.

Florida from space, with satellite.
The latest Senate offer matches funding the House had for the aerospace economic development agency.

Forget the moon landing. It looks like Space Florida just landed another $6 million in state revenue for a finance fund.

The latest Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations offer includes $6 million for the aerospace economic development agency. That’s equal to what House Infrastructure and Tourism budget negotiators have already set aside for the same purpose. The funding comes out of nonrecurring general revenues.

The dollars for a finance fund are on top of the $12.5 million the House and Senate already included in their budgets. That’s the same amount of money the organization received last year.

But that doesn’t mean Space Florida has completed its mission this Legislative Session. The agency still hopes to convince lawmakers to provide an additional $5 million for its operating budget.

While Space Florida pursues economic development in the sector to work throughout Florida, the agency’s efforts are especially valuable on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Gov. Ron DeSantis previously represented much of the Space Coast in Washington and has long voiced support for growing the industry. Additionally, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez serves as Board Chair for the organization. Support in the executive branch seems highly likely.

But it took haggling with the Senate, which originally did not include the finance fund for Space Florida in its budget, before heading into the conference.

The financial flexibility provided by that fund should prove especially valuable as the group goes through a leadership transition.

Space Florida recently hired Robert A. Long as the new President and CEO, taking over from Frank DiBello, who has led Space Florida since 2009.

Long laid out a vision for Space Florida ahead of the Legislative Session.

“Our vision this year is to implement policies that will strengthen Florida’s standing as the global hub of aerospace commerce and propel us into a new era, leading the charge on economic investment and critical infrastructure and tech advancements for the aerospace industry,” he said.

“The expansion of our spaceport territory provides optionality for aerospace development, and further solidifies Florida as the premier global and interplanetary capital for aerospace commerce. This enhancement will attract a diverse range of aerospace companies and investors to new regions of our state, driving greater economic growth and supporting military resiliency.”

The funding, of course, also comes during a big week for private spaceflight — the first commercial lander to achieve a successful soft landing on the moon.

While Houston-based Intuitive Machines was behind the lander, Odysseus, Florida played a major role in making this event happen.

The launch occurred from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The camera sent up to the moon was built by students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, located in Daytona Beach.

The rocket that took Odysseus up was made by SpaceX, a company Space Florida worked to spark a good relationship with, allowing Kennedy Space Center to host multiple launches for the Elon Musk-run firm.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 28, 2024 at 8:18 am

    A $6 million relo package might convince one naive but educationally qualified space industry worker to relocate to Florida, but we’re gonna need more than one.

    Let’s just make certain this $6M relo package requires at least 6 years of residency in Florida and working in the space industry. Pay the package out via increasing portions over the 6 years. For example, year 1 we pay $250,000. Year two we pay $500,000. Year three, $750,000. Year four pay $1.25M. Year five pays $1.75M. Year 6 pays the remaining $2M. That math might be a little off but you get the gist. The longer they stay and work, the more of the relo package they get. Plus salary and bonuses and incentives and stock options of course.

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