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Space Coast Economic Recovery Will Be Slow, Says Economist Hank Fishkind

Photo Credit:NASA
Photo Credit:NASA

July 05, 2011 | WMFE - As NASA's Space Shuttle program comes to an end, as many as 9,000 jobs are being lost at Kennedy Space Center, and many more job cuts are projected as the effect ripples through the Space Coast economy. 90.7's economic analyst Hank Fishkind says it will be a major blow to an area that has already suffered from more unemployment than the rest of Central Florida.

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Some private companies, such as commercial spaceflight company Space-X and Brazilian jet maker Embraer, have started to move into the area.  Fishkind believes those firms will absorb some of the displaced workers but not nearly enough of them and not nearly soon enough.

“The loss of space technology jobs means the loss of very high paid jobs” Fishkind told WMFE, “so it has larger than normal consequences for the area’s economy.”

He said the loss of so many high wage jobs is having a larger multiplier or “ripple” effect across the entire economic landscape.

Still, he thinks Brevard County is better prepared now than it was when the Apollo program shut down in the early 1970s.

“The area is larger and the economy is more diverse,” Fishkind said, “so Titusville isn’t going to turn into the same kind of ghost town that it did before, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t tremendous harm to the economy.”

Fishkind thinks much of the economic damage could have been avoided if the area’s leaders had been given adequate resources to begin dealing with the problem sooner.  He believes they could have used NASA’s success and prestige to attract many more high-tech, clean energy, military simulation and aeronautical technology jobs that could have been in place by now.

Furthermore, he does not see an economic recovery happening in the near future for the Space Coast.

“We still have tremendous opportunities if we could muster the resources and the political will to do it.” Fishkind said. “Unfortunately, we seem to be marching in the other way in this country and this state. We’re marching away from government doing anything.”

Fishkind thinks the government should do more to stimulate economic development and to act as a sort of economic “spark plug.” 

He predicts it will take at least five to ten years for Brevard County to recover from the economic affects of the shuttle’s retirement.



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