Maryland Space Business Roundtable
May 23, 2011
It’s great to join you here. A special word of thanks to Dr. Philip Ardanuy, Rob Strain, Ed Weiler, Gary Davis, Matt Mountain, John Sommerer, Rich Rocca – and to my good friend Kevin Kelly.
Kevin and I worked together for the “Cyber Senator, Barbara A. Mikulski,” way back in the day. Kevin is one of my dear friends and he’s also helped us on the Federal Facilities Task Force. Kevin has done an outstanding job. He helped introduce me to so many of you so that I could actually come to this luncheon and see with my own eyes what a tremendous strength we have in the work that you do. Not only those of you that work directly in leading great places like NASA Goddard or the EPA, but on behalf of public service and effective government.
I also want to thank members of the Greater Salisbury Committee who are here today, all our friends from the Eastern Shore, Wicomico County, that made the drive across the Bay Bridge to be with us this afternoon. We’re joined by several members of the Federal Facilities Board that Phil so kindly recognized. And also by the Maryland Economic Development Commission.
I made history -- you all might not know this, you probably didn’t write it down on your calendars – when three years ago I became the first Governor of Maryland ever to visit the Space Business Roundtable luncheon. (Applause.) I wrote it down in mine and I’ve underscored that. As Woody Allen said, 90 percent of life is just showing up. Right? (Laughter.) Well, I’m here to complete the second term here, I’m showing up once again. You and I are making history for the second time, the only Governor ever re-elected to then come back to the Space Business Roundtable. (Laughter and applause.)
Just look around this room. What an amazing pool of creative, talented, diverse people. You are our new economy and what you do is a big part of the reason why we, as a people, have nothing to fear from that term. New economy, global economy, bring it on. We are the Innovation Economy.
As Marylanders, as Americans, we still believe in tomorrow, if we make the right choices today. And I think that’s what this group is all about, really; your advocacy at the Federal level, your advocacy at the State level. And I want to thank those of you that participated in the report that we distributed today.
There are a number of policy recommendations that have been made in this report. Number one, is to enhance Maryland’s leadership in space and earth science research and development. Number two, to pursue business development opportunities in space and earth science and technology commercialization to create new products, new wealth and new employment. Number three, building on what we already have here, we need to build greater opportunities, not only in government launches, but commercial launches for the Eastern Shore. And, four -- and core, really, of everything you do in this Innovation Economy – is the education of our people.
Two years ago when I met with you, we had occasion to talk about what a tremendous asset your industry, your business, your mission, your vocation is for our State. And I know that it’s hard sometimes not to become cynical or kind of scratch your head and wonder when you look at this beautifully strong country of ours, seemingly held back on debates that lead inexorably to dismantling our leadership position in space and exploration.
We’ve gone through dark and confusing and cynical times like this before. I urge you not to give up. I mean, there is only one direction for the United States of America and that is forward. And sometimes, yes, we kind of pause for a second or we get confused. But eventually, we pick up ourselves, up off the mat, and we move forward again.
And it has for some reason always been a part of Maryland’s karma, Maryland’s responsibility, Maryland’s history, to play that leading role when other States are slipping back, for Maryland to move forward and show by the example of our choices, by the example of our actions and by the clarity of our vision, that our best days are still ahead of us.
For every kid that’s ever squinted his or her eyes to look into a telescope, who’s ever watched a rocket launch on TV, who’s ever said “may the force be with you”, the work you do is exciting work.
My parents -- my mom is still with me, thank God, my dad passed away five years ago. They’re both aviators, so I grew up in a house where we made every model that there was, every World War II airplane, every rocket that there was. I remember my parents bringing us down to the damp, cold basement when my cousins were visiting from Pittsburgh and making us sit in front of the television, watching those images, scratchy as they might have been, coming across the TV set of men landing on the moon. Because of the vision, because of the clarity of our choices and our examples.
I have so many fond memories. My mom was a docent at the Air & Space Museum and many afternoons my brothers and I had the run of the whole place.
And I wanted to share this quote with you. I read this from a woman named Betty Sue Flowers, and she writes about the fact that we are part of the first generation of human beings ever to see the image of our planet from space. And, you know, we’ve seen it so often maybe we take it for granted.
But she writes this, “That blue pearl of the earth as seen from space – the first view of the whole we have ever seen, is an image now so familiar in all parts of the globe that it has profoundly influenced our story about who we are, especially in relation to the environment.”
I wanted to come here today to share with you just a few thoughts about this next chapter in our story because it’s going to require leadership. Leadership in ways that it feels that are all related to one another.
And they are leadership in advancing the security of our people (as all of us woke up today to Joplin, Missouri being leveled by yet another tornado. 600-plus this year, 160 last year),… it requires leadership and improving the security of our people. Leadership in developing the skills of our people from preschool all the way up. And leadership in designing, imagining and making a more sustainable future, not just for our generation, but for many generations that follow ours.
And I would submit to you that that leadership involves your industry, it involves your vocation, it involves your profession in every way. We can’t improve the security of our people, without your work. We can’t find a more sustainable future without your perspective of space. And in order to realize what we have to do from space, we need smart people to be able to do it.
As I stand in Prince George’s County, there’s an announcement going on that 80 major retailers are going to be opening an outlet store over at National Harbor, inside the beltway, in Prince George’s County. Every job is important and there is no job that’s going to come out of this recession that’s more important than the next job, whether it’s in retail or service or construction.
I wanted to walk through three questions here. I know that people ask, “why space?” “Why is this sector important to Maryland’s future?” The second question is, “Why Maryland?” And then the third one is really the goal and the recommendations of the report we laid out, which is “how do we lift off?” How do we go to a higher level, even with the debates that rage in Washington.
Just a few moments ago I was with my favorite United States Senator -- tied for first place with Ben Cardin -- and that is Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, always there, always moving forward.
And we’re near the University of Maryland’s release of the great work that Chancellor Kirwan and his team pulled together on a Cyber Security Task Force. Last Thursday we were announcing new clean tech, green tech jobs up in White Marsh. You might say that over the last few days, with the kindness that you’ve given me to speak with you today, this has been kind of an Innovation Economy stretch of a few days.
But the truth is, in Maryland every day is an Innovation Economy day. Cyber security, information technology, clean tech, green tech, bioscience, next generation manufacturing and, yes, space and aerospace. And what’s true about all of those industries is also true about space.
We are in a stiff competition right now for the jobs and opportunity that any people needs in order to grow its middle-class and move itself forward. And the states that win and the nations that succeed will be those states that make the right choices to transform the enormous challenges we face in climate and so many other things, to transform the mysteries out there of our time into the new jobs of the new economy.
There are 15,000 space industry jobs in our State. And while every job is important, the average salary is $110,000 a year, which is more than double the average private sector pay.
Fifteen thousand jobs in a sector that does a particularly good job in leveraging the power of our diversity. Last time I was here I gave a shout-out to SGT, a Maryland company that was started in a garage by an African American minister and an Iranian immigrant. In many ways, SGT is a metaphor for the entire industry in our State. And it’s really been true of American space exploration from the beginning. It’s our diversity and the different cultures that come together that allow us to achieve in many instances the pinnacle of human technology.
Fifteen thousand jobs and nearly 1.2 billion in procurement dollars from the Goddard Space Center that flow into Maryland businesses every year. Goddard, where I once visited on a class trip, I think when I was in roughly fifth grade.
These are a few of the fundamental economic reasons. But, of course, there is so much else that you contribute to. Space exploration has fundamentally changed for the better who we are as human beings. It has given us a perspective that is critically needed, especially now, in better understanding how we can become not a depleting and exploiting force in this world of ours, but a renewing and regenerating force in this world of ours.
So many of the most important human missions to space have been launched right from here in Maryland, or Maryland has played a role in them.
The second question is why Maryland? It’s because we are an epicenter of innovation and the Innovation Economy, because for some reason we have always understood that the quality of our children’s education is directly tied to our future economic opportunities.
We are now creating jobs because of this Innovation Economy. In the last month it was four times the national rate of job creation. Our unemployment rate is 25 percent below the national rate.
But there is also another important thing and that is this innovation workforce. In a time when other states are cutting investments in education, those of you who call Maryland home, together we’ve actually increased our investment in education. We’re the only state to go four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition at our University of Maryland schools.
Education Week magazine -- never happened before, it happened now in the middle of the recession when we’re making millions of cuts to everything else -- named your public schools, as a system, compared to the other 50 states, as number one three years in a row. We all know that there’s an imperative -- especially if your industry is to thrive and survive in improving the number of children who take the STEM-related disciplines.
We’re number one in America for research and development on a per capita basis, not only because we’re number one in the numbers of PhD scientists and engineers, but also because of the tremendous federal assets we have here.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce we are one of the top two states in America for innovation, and entrepreneurship.
The Milken Institute names us one of the top two for science and technology.
And the Kauffman new economy index -- all of them independent entities, by the way, not controlled in any way, shape or form by the Maryland Democratic Party -- the Kauffman new economy index named us one of the top three states best positioned to be able to take advantage of the opportunities in the new economy.
And they are, in part, those space-specific assets; Goddard, the Hubble telescope, the Space Telescope Science Institute. We’re the home of flagship labs like the Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, which built and launched the New Horizons mission to Pluto. And they are advancing cutting edge aeronautics research at Morgan State University, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland’s College Park, Eastern Shore and Baltimore County campuses.
Our high schools are tremendous assets as well. In Charles County, they are doing a lot of innovative things in the space sciences under the leadership of Superintendent James Richmond. They are the very first school system east of the Mississippi to offer classes taught on the Space Foundation’s curriculum. In 2014, they are planning to open a new innovation high school. And they are also going to send a student-designed experiment up with the Atlantis astronauts next month.
What’s more, 16 of America’s top 25 space industry manufacturing and service companies are located in our State. If you look at the 14 Fortune 500 companies that are in aerospace and the defense sector, nine of them have a presence in Maryland.
And, of course, the greatest space asset of all -- Barbara Mikulski.
How do we Liftoff?
So, how do we go to the next level? How do we go to the next level? I would argue that the real challenges we face as a people, are not financial, they’re not technological, they are political. They are political.
Whether or not we still have the capacity as a people to govern ourselves well at the national level and the State level, I need to ask you -- it wasn’t one of the recommendations in this report, but I need to ask you to be more vocal than you have ever been before about the priority of jobs, the imperative of jobs and what space exploration contributes to innovative and job creation in our country. And you need to do it right now. As if our life depends on it, because it just might.
We, for some reason, have been wandering through these times and we seem hell-bent on dismantling our country’s leadership and our technological advantages and all of those things that should have our children feeling very optimistic about the future. You need to have your voice heard and I’m going to be up there with you and so will our Congressional delegation.
Get this, 30 years ago when I graduated from high school the United States was number one in high school graduation rates, now we rank 11th. Thirty years ago we ranked number one in college completion, today we rank 12th.
And at a time when all of these tremendous climate events are happening and it should be apparent to all that if this were a movie there would be a scientist jumping up and down saying, “we’ve got to do something.” Get this, at a time when you see these monster tornadoes and other things all happening, as a people, as a nation, we invest more every year in potato chips than we invest in energy research and development.
And these trends aren’t going to turn themselves around by themselves. And disabuse yourself of the notion that somehow we’re going to wake up, we’re going to have somebody in the White House that’s able to find that magic wand and make this all happen by themself.
It’s still a government of, by and for the people and we need to remind one another that there are good and bad consequences for the good and bad decisions that we make.
At the State level there are things that we can do, though, and that we continue to do. I mentioned the investments that we’ve made in skills.
But I wanted to touch on -- which also happens to be one of the recommendations in the Space Task Force and the Commission. On the memo to our ability to keep this industry strong is developing that tight line of skilled kids, that 65 percent increase in STEM, going deeper down into our community colleges and, yes, into our elementary schools and middle schools to inspire kids to go into space -- aerospace, cyber and the other things.
A second recommendation was that we create a Space Development Authority, along with a space-related business incubator. Great ideas, and I look forward to working with you and fleshing those out.
We are also teaming, at the recommendation of the Commission, with the Greater Salisbury Committee with the goal of positioning the NASA Wallops Flight Facility as a premier spaceport -- not a back-up spaceport, a premier spaceport, for light and medium lift launches. And we have to break out of the notion that because of our proximity to D.C., that somehow we’re restricted to Government only launches. We’ve got to be a lot broader about this, capitalize on our expertise where earth sciences is concerned and go after the commercial launch opportunities as well.
We’re working on a number of additional fronts as well. You’ve been given an Executive Summary of that business report from our Department of Economic Development.
But the fourth one I want to touch on was this. All of you know space science is not just about expanding what we know about other planets, Pluto or other galaxies. It’s -- especially in this time, it’s figuring out, with a perspective of the whole, how we can heal this very stressed blue pearl planet of ours, how we can understand better and reverse global climate change.
And once again, Maryland is leading the way, thanks to the work being done in places like Goddard.
So we are being urged and we will push with our Congressional delegation, for a new national center of climate and environmental information to be based here in Maryland so that our State can continue to lead and move forward on these important fronts.
There’s a tremendous delta of opportunity that exists in our State between the research that happens here and the commercialization that happens here. And Britt Kirwan and President Daniels and I all met just about two weeks ago, talking about how we cross that delta of opportunity.
There’s no reason we should content ourselves with ranking 37th in commercialization and new patents and yet be number one in the research. We’ve got to do a better job and that requires all of us becoming better connected.
There are a lot of decisions that are beyond our control, but there are a lot of things that we do have the ability to do. And part of this time -- maybe part of the harvest of this challenging time of economic contraction -- is the opportunity that it gives us to take better stock of what we actually have in one another and in the assets that are all around us, which, if connected in tighter, better and deeper ways, gives us all that we need in order to make a better future for our kids.
A half century ago, President Kennedy said that “we do not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it, we mean to lead it.”
And that’s what we need to do again. In Maryland that’s what we are going to do with you, alongside of you, because of the importance of this industry to everything that it takes to grow our middle-class in Maryland and move forward out of these very difficult times.
I leave you with a quote from a science fiction classic, Life, the Universe and Everything, by Douglass Adams who said, “it is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”
There are no magic solutions, there are no easy answers. But to move forward, we’re going to have to choose and, fortunately, we have tremendous partnerships that allow us to make the choices, the right choices, that move us forward as a State, move us forward on space, move us forward in creating greater job opportunities for all of Maryland.
Thank you all very, very much.