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Study predicts Spaceport Camden would boost tourism

A proposed commercial spaceport on the Georgia coast could attract 4,000 to 5,000 tourists with each satellite launch, according to a new study. Spaceport Camden also would support 38 to 45 permanent tourism industry jobs, the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research at Georgia Southern University found in a study conducted in partnership with Camden County. “Building Spaceport Camden could bolster additional spending in the area’s hospitality industry throughout Camden County and the southeast Georgia region,” said Benjamin McKay, the center’s assistant director. “The potential per-launch benefit to total employee compensation could reach $1.1 million, with sizeable increases in the total goods and services used in the region and total business sales.”

Supporters of the controversial project, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia’s congressional delegation, say a commercial spaceport would represent a huge economic boost for southeastern Georgia and attract aerospace engineering graduates from Georgia Tech who otherwise likely would take their skills and earning power out of state.

Environmental groups allied with property owners downrange from the launch site oppose the spaceport as a threat to public safety. The project also has raised concerns from officials at Cumberland Island National Seashore and the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. The Federal Aviation Administration announced last May it was delaying its review of the project after Camden County officials submitted a revised application that calls for launching only small rockets from the site rather than the medium-to-large rockets envisioned in the original plan. A decision isn’t expected until next October.

Georgia Southern previously estimated that Spaceport Camden would generate more than $22 million in annual economic activity in addition to more than $9 million in economic activity that would result from the project’s construction phase.

“Small-lift launch vehicle launches mean big business for our hotels and restaurants,” said Camden County Administrator Steve Howard, who also is serving as Spaceport Camden project lead.

“Many hospitality businesses have been suffering as a result of COVID-19,” Howard added. “This report shows that a launch from Spaceport Camden can revitalize Camden’s tourism industry and ignite our recovery.”

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