WEATHERMAN: Federal Funds Should Benefit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Indian River Lagoon
By Lynda L. Weatherman, EDC of Florida’s Space Coast // July 7, 2021
OPINION: Lynda L. Weatherman
The EDC’s unique proposal advances strong national interests with enduring benefits for the local and state economies
As a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and the White House continue to debate the details of a potential federal infrastructure plan, now is the time for our community to identify and make the case for priorities before the opportunity passes us by.
For this reason, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) has taken the initiative to advocate that funding should be directed to where it will build upon existing federal investments and have the greatest impact.
The EDC’s unique proposal advances strong national interests with enduring benefits for the local and state economies.
On Florida’s Space Coast, two valuable assets in particular fit the bill — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Indian River Lagoon, which was designated by Congress as an estuary of national significance.
Funding to enhance and grow the world’s preeminent 21st-century launch complex for civil and commercial space access at KSC is an investment that will pay dividends for Brevard County, the state of Florida and our nation.
Whereas the significance of Indian River Lagoon restoration and stewardship is twofold. The lagoon is an economic driver in its own right with respect to tourism, recreation and real estate development.
The natural resource also looms large for the quality of life that will help ensure KSC and its commercial space partners can attract and retain the skilled workforce necessary to sustain the Space Coast and the United States as the epicenter of human spaceflight, technology development and space discovery.
KSC’s post-shuttle transformation to a multi-user launch complex is evidenced by the multitude of civil, defense and commercial operations occurring at America’s gateway to space.
The EDC proposes a catalytic federal investment to enhance the spaceport capabilities and:
■ Protect U.S. interests in space.
■ Sustain a high-tech, high-wage workforce.
■ Serve as a model for building coastal infrastructure resilient to storms, storm surge, sea level rise and climate change.
■ Protect the water quality of the adjacent Indian River Lagoon.
Much of the legacy infrastructure in and around the lagoon, including east-west transportation corridors and causeways, restricts water flow and increases water retention, which contribute to harmful algal blooms.
Funding for a comprehensive infrastructure improvement package at KSC would accomplish the above aims and:
■ Accelerate the timeline for infrastructure improvements to east-west road and causeway corridors into KSC, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Port Canaveral.
■ Decrease coastal vulnerability, improve Indian River Lagoon water flow and expand capacity for safe evacuation of KSC personnel in advance of hurricanes.
■ Develop a new 21st-century wastewater treatment plant at KSC utilizing leading-edge technologies to protect the water quality of the Indian River Lagoon.
In addition to funding KSC infrastructure improvements, the EDC asks Congress to appropriate the full $50 million that was reauthorized with strong bipartisan support in 2021 through the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act.
The convergence of space, clean water and infrastructure represents one of the rare cases that can generate broad bipartisan support. KSC and the Indian River Lagoon are not only important assets for Brevard County, but for Florida and the nation.
As the final plan materializes, we ask our congressional delegation and community to recognize the central role these assets play in our economy and way of life and take action for the benefit of all stakeholders.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lynda L. Weatherman, a Florida native, is the president & CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. In her position, she resides over the operations and strategic direction of a nearly $3 million operation with 15 staff members and five outside consultants.
Her territory is that of a 1,557 square mile area included within Brevard County, Florida, which includes the MSA of Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville. She is primarily responsible for generating new prospects activity and the retention of existing industry, while keeping abreast of government laws and regulations effecting economic development, all with a goal of creating new jobs for the Brevard County community.
She provides advice and counsel to local business and industry and relays new programs and procedures to assist manufacturing and high tech companies. Ms. Weatherman achieves this through trade missions, promoting international trade, assisting industry in their conversion from defense to commercial markets, and encouraging investment along the Space Coast.
Weatherman became the Executive Director of the Space Coast Development Commission and in 1992, became the Executive Director of the City of Titusville’s Economic Development Department. Ms. Weatherman assumed her current position with the EDC of Florida’s Space Coast in August of 1994.
In January of 2009, Weatherman was appointed to serve a three year term on the prestigious board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Jacksonville Branch, representing this region. In 2007, Ms. Weatherman received the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor NASA awards to both government and non-government employees. In 2005, she facilitated the first ever Space Act Agreement between Kennedy Space Center and an economic development organization.