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Ivey announces $10 million grant to Space and Rocket Center

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, August 22, 2017, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) was at the NASA’s Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville to announce a $10 million economic development grant to establish a new cyber camp and for campus expansion of the rocket center.

Redstone Chairman Joe Newberry said, “This is an audacious day for the Rocket Center and for Alabamians everywhere.”  The Space and Rocket Center has been the top tourist attraction in Alabama for six of the last seven years.

Gov. Ivey said, “Today is a great day for Huntsville, North Alabama and the great State of Alabama.  Today we find ourselves in an environment that inspires children and adults to dream. Expanding Cyber Camp in Alabama’s No. 1 tourist attraction, the US Space and Rocket Center, was a logical investment for the State.  More students will have the opportunity to train in cyber-security related fields of study and contribute to the increasing demand for cybersecurity professionals in Alabama and across the country.”

Ivey said, “The inaugural camp of 32 students was chosen from students across the state. We must train our students in technology and the Cyber Camp does just that. Cyber Camp is vital not only for our State and for our workforce but for the entire nation.”

Gov. Ivey said, “I am so proud to announce that I am providing a grant in the amount of $10 million to the Space and Rocket Center. We are so thankful to have this facility. Human ingenuity and creativity is not limited by what we fail to achieve; but by what we fail to attempt to achieve.”

Huntsville also had more good news when the US Air Force announced that Boeing had been given the contract to design and build America’s next generation Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).  Kay Ivey said, “I am proud that the US Air Force has chosen Boeing to develop our nation’s next intercontinental ballistic missile and that Boeing plans to complete some of that project here in Alabama. This announcement is a testament to the fantastic work that Boeing does and serves to strengthen the bond between that great company and this great state. Boeing’s continued growth and success, is a sign that Huntsville, and all of Alabama, is on the forefront of aerospace innovation and in protecting our nation.”

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The Alabama Political Reporter (APR) talked about the economic effects of landing the missile contract with professional economic developer Nicole Jones.  Jones stated, “Boeing has been a part of Huntsville since 1962, and we thank Boeing for their continued presence and innovation in Huntsville and the entire State of Alabama. The United States Air Force’s selection of Boeing to design a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) translates into local jobs and highlights Alabama’s important role in the aerospace industry as well as national security.”

Jones is running for the Republican nomination for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.  Incumbent John McMillan (R) is term limited from running again.

CEO and Executive Director of the US Space and Rocket Center Dr. Deborah Barnhart said, “We deeply appreciate Gov. Ivey’s wisdom in investing in Alabama’s future with us. With Space Camp, our mission has been to light fire to the imagination and inspire our children to become the next generation of explorers. Cyber Camp is the first step in defending our freedom to explore, to protect our homeland, to insure our privacy.”

Dr. Barnhart said, “In 1967 the State of Alabama invested $1.6 million of bond money to start the Space and Rocket Center, and it has grown into the State’s most popular tourist attraction.  Here NASA scientists are working to put a human being on Mars. We are the only NASA visitors center that is the number one attraction in its state and we are the only science exhibit which is the number one tourist attraction in any state.”

Barnhart said, “More people have attended space camps this year than in any year of our 35 year history. The rocket system must grow.  We need more classrooms and room for US Cyber Camp.  Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle started a cyber initiative. Thank you cyber Huntsville for coming to us.”

The Commander of US Strategic Command John Hyten praised the Rocket Center for starting the Cyber Camp.  He said that, Cyberspace is the glue that holds everything together.”

Recent Cyber Camp graduate Anslee said, “I learned so much.  How to protect myself and how to eventually protect the government.  Cyber Security affects, “Everything from your cell phones, to hospitals to schools, to even government systems. It (Cyber Camp) made me want to do this.”

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Dr. Barnhart said that the grant, which is the largest gift in the history of the Space and Rocket Center, will allow them to build a new building which will connect the original museum with the Davidson Center.

Jones told APR, “Cyber Camp is a workforce development initiative aimed to prepare high school students for success in competitive technological markets. We have incredible brainpower in Alabama, and the Cyber Camp program will help foster the skills needed for future careers in the public and private sector.”

US Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) thanked that 1967 State Legislature and Governor Wallace for having the vision to realize the need for the Space and Rocket Center and all the Governors, Legislatures, and Huntsville Mayors thru Gov. Kay Ivey and Mayor Tommy Battle for keeping the vision going.

Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives (R-Monrovia) said that he grew up on a small farm ten miles north of the Rocket Center and Redstone Arsenal. His father worked on building the test stands for the rocket engines.  McCutcheon said that when they would test those rocket engines the fields would shake and it scared McCutcheon as a boy.   He asked his grandfather what it was and his grandfather told him. “That is the sound of money.”  McCutcheon said that it has been and credits the space flight center and Redstone Arsenal for helping to grow Huntsville.

State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Huntsville) said that the Rocket Center has a $one million a year earmark in the state education budget.  Sometimes people in other parts of the state have come after that, but the North Alabama delegation work together to protect that funding.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R) said that he and his team identified cyber security as a growing job field and they have made cyber part of the curriculum in the Huntsville Schools.  We are growing our work force.  The FBI, the military, and the private sector all want people who are trained in cyber security.

Tommy Battle is running as a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018.  Gov. Kay Ivey has not announced whether she was will run for the office in 2018; but multiple sources are telling APR that she will.

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The major party primaries are on June 5, 2018.


Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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