Space X is coming to the Rio Grande Valley.
A launch site is currently under construction at Brownsville’s Boca Chica Beach.
Brownsville is in a unique location at the southernmost tip of Texas.
It boasts international access with its proximity to the border, ship channels at the Port of Brownsville, and an international airport.
It’s one of many cities along the border preparing for Space X and potential jobs that may follow.
But will that be the case?
We met with officials at McGregor Texas a city near Waco where a Space X has been for over a decade. They tell us Space X has become a great community partner. In terms of jobs they also saw some growth.
Andre Smith, with the McGregor Economic Development Corporation says Space X started with “3 employees in 125 acres. Now there’s over 500 employees in 4300 acres”
During our search of employment opportunities, we ran into the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy (GWAMA). It was Created in 2013 to meet the workforce demands of employers such as including Space X. It’s a high school that has students from 15 School Districts. There they learn manufacturing skills.
GWAMA Director Dale McCall says, “Space X hires a lot of welders, a lot of welders. They have to be highly skilled workers.”
the most popular program coincides with the jobs Space X is looking for at the McGregor site.
The school has over 200 students and about 140 of them are in the welding program.
In another district, McGregor ISD tells us they too try to prepare their students for industries like Space X. Assistant Superintendent Paul Miller says, “We now have 2 rocketry classes … where they build rockets and Space X is a partner in that.”
Despite the partnerships the local schools tell us they don’t know of any of their former students now at Space X. When asked, McCall states, “No… None that I’m aware of.”
We met with the McGregor EDC. They tell us that the exploration company hires Texans.
Smith says, “they do quite a bit of hiring from students that went through a trade route as opposed to a traditional college liberal arts degree. They actually hire locally quite a bit… Anything from welding, instrumentation, logistics… there’s a lot involved moving the equipment and the supplies used to test.”
The Brownsville launch facility may see a difference in employment opportunities than those seen in the McGregor Area. The McGregor site is a development facility where rockets are said to be tested and built. The Brownsville Site will be a launch site. Unlike McGregor, a growth in the tourism industry is expected in the Valley.
Either way, educators, law enforcement and elected officials in the RGV are preparing for Space X’s arrival.
Brownsville Independent School District Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas says, “I’m hoping that as we go through this process, some of our schools select a space technology academy.”
“We will expect a large crowd, says Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, “That is why we’ve been talking to them from the very beginning.”
Cameron County Judge says, “There’s saying that good things come for those to wait.. and if it takes a bit longer because of whatever plans Space X has, we’ll wait.
The jobs that may be coming for Valley residents may not necessarily with Space X directly. In the meantime, we asked leaders in McGregor for advice.
“Look at your high schools and see where they can partner not only through engineering and rocketry class,” says McCall, “but where you can move the students to work for a great company like Space X.”
“It’ll be great for the future of Brownsville that they can have children inspired by your neighbor that is doing something no other company on earth is doing,” says Smith.
“You guys are going to wake up one day and go ‘wow this is so cool, it’s rocket science.’ And it really is,” says Miller.