New report shows economic impact of Spaceport America in New Mexico

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. – Spaceport America has been at the center of national attention recently as more Virgin Galactic commercial flights launch from New Mexico.

But according to a new report from New Mexico State University and the Arrowhead Center, it’s more than just the shuttle thrusters that have been going sky-high. 

Spaceports America’s Executive Director Scott McLaughlin says their economic impact is also on the rise. 

“Two things that were exciting: one was the number of jobs that were connected to the Spaceport, that was 811 private jobs, and millions of dollars in value added, that’s new money that came into New Mexico because of the Spaceport,” McLaughlin explained. 

According to the report, there was $138 million in economic output, $60 million in production, and $12.9 million collected in both state and federal taxes. 

But McLaughlin adds, some benefits from the Spaceport go beyond the numbers and are more about the opportunities 

“The benefit is that your kids can graduate from college or go out of a tech school and instead of leaving the state like so many do in New Mexico, you can get a good job in New Mexico or even your own backyard if you live in Sierra or Doña Ana County,” McLaughlin said

So far, there are 10 different companies working out of Spaceport America. McLaughlin says even more are moving in. 

But what perks have New Mexico taxpayers seen since we put up $220 million to build it? 

“When Virgin Galactic flies they are welcome, and we built a viewing lot just outside the Spaceport, so they can come and watch. People have also been up at Elephant Butte, or by a little town of Engle, so they have a good view of when the spaceship drops from the mother ship that’s kind of our public access,” McLaughlin said. 

So, why can’t New Mexicans get the same access at Spaceport America during those flights and launches? Well, McLaughlin says it’s twofold. 

McLaughlin says some of their tenants are worried about their work and research being seen by competitors if they allow more people in the Spaceport. 

But he adds the Spaceport has been hosting more tours and outreach programs to local schools. So, he says when they add more tenants to the facility, he believes access will also expand.