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Spokane has joined several other communities vying to host the command center of the newest branch of the armed forces – the U.S. Space Force.
Spokane County commissioners unanimously voted Monday to nominate the region as a potential site for the U.S. Space Command headquarters. Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward signed a similar letter nominating the city of Spokane on Friday.
County Commissioner Al French said the new Space Command headquarters could bring hundreds of civilian jobs to the region, economic growth and a brighter future for Fairchild Air Force Base.
“From our standpoint, it’s all good news, assuming that we win,” he said.
French said the application process likely will be incredibly competitive. The Air Force previously had a smaller number of sites it was considering for the Space Command, but revised requirements in May.
French said he doesn’t view the city of Spokane’s separate nomination as competition with the county, saying it might improve the odds of getting selected.
“I’m good with whatever site is chosen as long as it’s in Spokane County,” he said. “This means our odds are better when we can offer multiple options.”
Brian Coddington, city of Spokane spokesman, said the multiple nominations showed community support, which may be a good sign if either Spokane County or the city of Spokane makes it to later stages of the selection process, where the Air Force will screen communities for additional requirements.
When reached by phone Monday, a representative from U.S. Space Force said staff are currently not allowed to disclose information beyond application materials posted online. Those materials do not include whether the new Space Command headquarters will be mostly for administrative purposes, or would also be a launching site for many of Space Force’s missions.
To be considered as a site for the Space Command headquarters, applicants must be within 25 miles of a military base, be one of the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States and have an score of at least 50 out of 100 on the livability index created by the AARP Public Policy Institute. Finding a community with good livability scores will help attract and maintain talent, according to application materials.
Multiple governments in one metropolitan area are allowed to apply to be the site of the new Space Command Center, as long as each request is endorsed by the governor, which is also a requirement for applicants. The due date for communities to nominate themselves is June 30.
Gov. Jay Inslee already has endorsed the city of Spokane’s request, as well as requests from Kent, Lakewood, Tacoma, Everett, and Vancouver. Tara Lee, Inslee spokeswoman, said he also will endorse Spokane County’s request.
“As a long supporter of the military and defense economic sector in WA – our state’s second largest direct public employer – Governor Inslee is pleased to endorse multiple Washington communities in their efforts to host the new headquarters. Our state’s commitment to supporting the national defense and our robust space and aerospace industry make us an ideal candidate,” she wrote in an email statement.
The Space Force was established by President Donald Trump in a memorandum in December 2018, but wasn’t funded until this year. It is currently made up of reassigned airmen from the Air Force Space Command. The Space Force is currently headquartered in Colorado Springs, but the Air Force plans to choose the new command center early next year and have it operational by 2026.
French said the county received some help in preparing to nominate itself from the state’s delegation to Congress. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers organized a briefing to educate local leaders on what they need to do to nominate themselves. In a prepared statement Monday, McMorris Rodgers said she will “support the process in every way possible.”
“This is an exciting opportunity and the Spokane region is uniquely suited for it as the home to Fairchild Air Force Base,” she said. “Protecting and expanding Fairchild is a top priority for me.”
Rebecca White can be reached at (509) 459-5039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.