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Stennis, business team up

The Coast

Stennis Space Center – With a 1997 economic impact of $293 million within a 50-mile radius, the John C. Stennis Space Center located near Picayune doesn`t just test rocket engines. It is a major economic engine not only for south Mississippi, but neighboring Louisiana, as well. About 3,747 people are employed at Stennis Space Center (SSC), a multi-agency, multi- disciplinary center for federal, state, academic and private research, development and testing.

Just as military bases across the country have formed local support groups to tout their base`s strengths during Base Realignment and Closure Hearings, Stennis has a group called Partners for Stennis that works to promote and protect SSC.

Partners for Stennis is a unique, cooperative effort whose backers include local governmental officials and the business leaders from the chambers of commerce of Hancock, Harrison and Pearl River counties and Slidell, La.

“We decided we need to be more proactive in trying to bring new businesses to Stennis Space Center because we know how great it is to be out there,” said Irma Cry, immediate past chair of Partners for Stennis and the executive director of the Slidell Chamber of Commerce.

“We have to start thinking about the fact that we are in a global economy. We have to think in terms of regions instead of just in our own backyard. What happens good in Mississippi affects Louisiana, and vice versa.”

Of the 3,747 employees at Stennis, 2,709 are from Mississippi and 989 are from Louisiana.

Partners for Stennis was formed to support and enhance the development of programs and businesses located at the Stennis Space Center. For example, recently Partners for Stennis did a quality-of-life presentation for the governmental group that is deciding the location for the proposed space-based laser project.

Partners for Stennis also serves a similar function for businesses interested in locating at Stennis Space Center or even other areas nearby. For example, the group provided information and tours to employees of the new $400-million Wellman plastics plant at Port Bienville in Hancock County. Employees were taken on tours of four communities in the area to get an idea of housing availability, the cost of living, educational opportunities and other information helpful to new residents.

Similar tours have been given to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employees transferring from outside the region, and to Naval personnel.

The Navy recently closed offices in Florida and Texas to consolidate services provided by the Navy Human Resources Center. The center will be employing between 200 to 300 people at Stennis. Four busloads of the prospective employees were recently taking on the Partners for Stennis community tours.

NASA accounts for about 50% of the economic impact of SSC. The Navy`s impact is estimated at 29%, the Department of Commerce program represents 4%, and construction of facilities, 6%.

Currently SSC is seeing a record level of rocket testing. The development of new rocket test programs are setting a pace for Stennis personnel that has not been seen since America`s race to the moon.

This is the first time in history of Stennis that all of the major test positions been occupied at the same time. The A-1, A-2, B-1 and B-2 positions are testing rockets for the Space Shuttle and the nation`s next generation of rockets.

Since mid-July Stennis has received the following:

About Becky Gillette

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