The Colorado Economic Development Commission on Thursday approved $30,000 in additional marketing dollars to help reverse the U.S. Air Force’s decision to move the headquarters of the new U.S. Space Command, currently in Colorado Springs, to Huntsville, Ala.
“We do see the door may be open to having conversations with our Congressional delegation and the (new) administration,” Michelle Hadwiger, deputy director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development told commissioners.
She added even if the effort failed, the money, which is coming out of the state’s Strategic Fund, would be well spent in promoting Colorado’s aerospace expertise to a national audience. The commission had already approved a $20,000 award in December.
Colorado was considered a front runner to host the new branch of the military given its deep aerospace and air defense expertise. In spring 2019, four of the six finalist locations were in Colorado and the provisional headquarters was given to Peterson Air Force Base. But by the spring of 2020, the Air Force reversed course and named six new finalists, with only one located in Colorado.
Critics allege the Air Force selection committee had actually picked Colorado Springs, but President Donald Trump overruled the decision to reward Alabama’s Congressional delegation for its almost unanimous support in his effort to overturn the election. Historically, base assignments are awarded on merit and not political patronage.
“On behalf of the city of Colorado Springs, it would be wholly appropriate and we would request that Congress and the Biden administration direct the U.S. Air Force to provide full details of the recommendation that was made to the President and the role President Trump played in this decision,” Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers said in a news conference on Jan. 13.
Based on the weighting system the U.S. Air Force provided in its application, there was no other location that could match Colorado Springs, Suthers argued. He outlined a long list of concessions, worth $130 million, that the city made to win the base, including providing 1,500 acres of land, building a child care center, lowering utility costs and offering to relocate power generation sources closer to the base.
Also on Thursday, the EDC approved providing an additional $2 million in funds to help the Gates Family Foundation establish a $12.5 million lending facility. That facility, replicating one created this summer, would borrow money from FirstBank to provide capital to nonprofit microlenders so they can extend loans under the Paycheck Protection Program to the smallest and most disadvantaged businesses.
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