In a deal dubbed “Project Swanson,” Space Florida has agreed Wednesday to front money for $4 million worth of construction and equipment so an undisclosed Canadian company can build a small solid rocket motor fuel manufacturing site in north Brevard County.

The company is pledging to create 80 new jobs with an average annual pay of $83,000, Space Florida Executive Vice President Howard Haug told the board of directors for Florida’s official space industry development company.

Meeting in Orlando during the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Future of Florida Forum, the board authorized Space Florida’s staff to negotiate a deal that will have Space Florida acquire land at the Titusville-Cocoa Airport, acquire the equipment, and arrange for construction of the plant. The deal would then have Space Florida lease the plant and equipment to company at rates that would assure the agency gets its money back.

Space Florida also would arrange to use conduit financing, so it would neither provide the actual money nor be on the hook to pay it back. The company also expects to seek local support for a second facility in the area as it ramps up, Haug said. He said the company sought an exemption from Florida open records laws to keep its identity secret through negotiations.

The fuel plant may be key to future developments in the area, which Space Florida is trying to develop into a broad-based space industry center with services ranging from manufacture of space industry supplies to launches.

“It’s a small, but growing, segment of the space industry,” Haug said of Project Sable.

“The project as a whole is in furtherance of the objective that we set not just to diversify the industry with major primes in all aspects of the industry, but to build a supply chain,” Space Florida President Frank DiBello said. “And if we want to attract rocket companies, this is a company that can significantly provide capabilities that parts of this industry may require.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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