Reggie Ash

Reggie Ash, chief defense development officer of the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, is shown wearing a red T-shirt with the hashtag #usspaceCOm to promote Colorado as the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command, now located at Peterson Air Force Base. The chamber plans to give away 5,000 of the T-shirts to those attending President Donald Trump’s rally Thursday at The Broadmoor World Arena. The chamber will give away the shirts at its offices, 102 S. Tejon St., Suite 430, on Tuesday and Wednesday and at the arena parking lot Thursday.

Just two days before President Donald Trump will be in Colorado Springs for a rally, the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC is launching a national campaign Tuesday to keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs.

The business group plans to spend $350,000 on a public relations campaign managed by a Washington, D.C., PR firm, a New York economic development consultant and a Washington, D.C., political advisory firm. The goal: to convince Trump and his advisers that Colorado is the ideal location for the permanent home of the newly relaunched command. While the command’s temporary home is at Peterson Air Force Base, a decision on its permanent location was delayed from an expected announcement in June.

“This is a national effort to promote Colorado as the best fit for the U.S. Space Command,” Chamber CEO Dirk Draper said Monday on a conference call. “We will be active in our pursuit and advocacy through letters, our elected representatives (to Congress) and meetings with Pentagon (officials). When the strategic basing decision was reopened, we realized we needed to amplify our message.”

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The Pentagon had identified Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases in the Colorado Springs area, Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., as the best options for the command, which oversees all military missions in orbit. However, sites in Florida, Texas and Virginia have since started lobbying to become the command’s permanent home.

The chamber will use an opportunity at Trump’s rally Thursday in Colorado Springs to push its cause by giving out 5,000 red T-shirts with the social media hashtag “#usspaceCOm” to rally participants. T-shirts can be picked up Tuesday and Wednesday at the chamber’s offices, 102 S. Tejon St., Suite 430, or Thursday before the rally in The Broadmoor World Arena parking lot. The decision on the Space Command home could come as soon as Thursday’s rally or as late as after the November presidential election, and the PR campaign will continue until a decision is announced, Draper said.

The chamber has been pushing Colorado at the best choice for the command since late 2018, first to land the temporary headquarters and later the permanent location, Chamber Chair Kathy Boe said. The command will have up to 1,500 military and civilian staff but also has a construction budget of more than $1 billion and is expected to draw dozens of defense contractors and potentially thousands of employees.

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Plans for the latest phase of the campaign began in September when Reggie Ash, the chamber’s chief defense development officer, began meeting with Ryan Price, a principal of The Trailblazer Group, a Washington, D.C., PR firm, about expanding their efforts. Price said the company has advised the chamber about tweets and social media posts and will seek news stories on the effort as part of the campaign. The chamber is also working with New York economic development consultant Development Counselors International and a Washington, D.C., political advisory firm it didn’t identify because a contract has yet to be signed.

“We want to make sure the president and key decision-makers in the administration have the complete picture and all the facts on what Colorado has to offer,” Price said.

The chamber is making five key points in its argument to keep the command in Colorado:

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• Moving the command out of Colorado would cost more than more than $1 billion to move people and renovate or build buildings in a new location, which would take multiple years to complete. A move also would disrupt the command’s mission focus and readiness and could lead to staff declining to make a move. Boe said “you can’t just assume the people with the expertise and security clearances will move” to a new location. Colorado has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of both aerospace workers and college graduates.

• The Pentagon already has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on military space facilities and technology in Colorado, putting the state in the best position to meet the command’s rapidly growing demands.

• Moving the command would cause “unnecessary disruption” to service personnel and their families.

• Colorado already is the “epicenter of national security space,” as it is home to the U.S. Space Command, two of the five Air Force space wings and the only space wing in the Air Force Reserve. Draper also pointed out that both the U.S. Northern Command and the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command are headquartered in the Springs area and “work on similar problems.”

• Colorado has been home to the military since 1941 with a workforce, private-sector defense contractors and other supporting agencies for the Department of Defense, military families and veterans.

“This is a positive, fact-based campaign on why Colorado is the right place for this mission. We don’t want to be negative about other states,” Draper said. “Anywhere in Colorado is the best location. We have a good, cooperative relationship with Aurora and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. and also are working with the Colorado Space Coalition, the governor’s office and all elected members of Congress.”

Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Contact Wayne Heilman 636-0234

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