Partnership to boost California’s Central Coast space ecosystem expands to include cities, higher education institutions

Lompoc, Santa Maria, UC Santa Barbara, Allan Hancock and Cuesta bring housing, workforce and innovation focus to Vandenberg MOU

Logos of the members of the Vandenberg MOU group

Two cities and three higher education institutions have officially joined the regional partnership working to support the growing Central Coast space industry at and around Vandenberg Space Force Base, bringing new collaboration on innovation, housing and workforce development.

The Cities of Lompoc and Santa Maria, UC Santa Barbara, Allan Hancock College and Cuesta College have signed on to the landmark agreement forged in 2020 between Space Launch Delta 30, REACH, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), Cal Poly and Deloitte and joined shortly after by Santa Barbara County.

“With exponential growth and record-breaking launches at Vandenberg, an all-of-community approach is essential,” REACH President/CEO Melissa James said. “By expanding our MOU partnerships to include our adjacent cities, community colleges and one of the nation’s top research universities, together we will ensure that Vandenberg’s and the Central Coast’s continued leadership in space is in harmony with the community and workforce needs.”

The expansion comes on the heels of growing momentum for West Coast space launch, including:

  • Development of the Commercial Space Master Plan, outlining key steps in growing the space industry on the Central Coast
  • Establishment of a state-led space industry task force — a key recommendation of the Master Plan
  • Launches nearly doubling last year and on track to double again this year, and companies such as SpaceX, Phantom Space and Relativity Space expanding their presence at the base
  • Plans for a commercial Mission Development Zone with launch control, administrative, payload processing facilities and other components moving forward
  • Projected growth at the base, with the potential for 500 new personnel by 2028 — not including the possibility of being named STARCOM HQ, a decision expected this year
  • U.S. Space Force plans to spend $1 billion over the next 5 years upgrading the launch ranges at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg to ultimately support 300 launches annually

Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Director Dee Dee Myers touted the space master plan and regional coalition behind it as “a cornerstone in sustaining and expanding California’s position at the forefront of the aerospace and commercial space industries, pushing the boundaries of innovation and creating the jobs of the future. It’s an essential piece in maximizing the incredible assets the state has at Vandenberg Space Force Base, driving not just private investment but state and federal investment, too.”

Vandenberg is already a major economic driver in the region. The base powers 16,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.5 billion in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, according to a 2021 study commissioned by REACH — with projections to grow to 18,000 jobs and $6 billion in impact by 2030.

“SpaceX adding a second launch site is just the latest sign of the increasing demand from the commercial sector,” said Space Launch Delta 30 Commander Col. Robert Long. “Vandenberg doesn’t succeed without the support of our local communities, and strong partnerships are vital to building a vibrant spaceport, which benefits the nation and this region.”


From the new signatories:

“As next-door neighbors, we have long valued our relationship with Vandenberg and look forward to continuing to work with the base and other partners on ways we can help one another grow.”
— Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne

“The City of Santa Maria has a proud and long history of supporting Vandenberg, its families and business needs, and we’re eager to contribute not just to its future but our shared future as a home of space innovation.”
— Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino

“UC Santa Barbara has a wealth of resources for advancing space exploration, climate research and related fields — including NASA research projects, specialized labs and even three astronauts among our alumni — and we are enthusiastic about joining this effort to push the bounds of science and technology.”
— UC Santa Barbara Associate Vice Chancellor Kelly Caylor

“Vandenberg Space Force Base and the commercial space industry present an incredible opportunity to grow the number of broadly accessible, good-paying jobs in our region, and Allan Hancock College is excited to help shape the pathways for our young people into these promising careers.”
— Allan Hancock College Superintendent/President Dr. Kevin Walthers

“Cuesta College has a proven track record of developing the workers our region’s industries need to thrive, most recently with our new aviation maintenance program, and we’re proud to partner in this growing collaboration to grow the regional aerospace industry.”
— Cuesta College Superintendent/President Dr. Jill Stearns


Federal and local perspectives:

“California’s Central Coast is home to Vandenberg Space Force Base, already one of the most active space launch sites in the United States. With this new partnership of Central Coast stakeholders, the region will expand its leadership as a global aerospace hub. Our state has long been at the cutting edge of science and technology, and this partnership will help keep us at the forefront of space exploration.”
— U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein

“California has long led the way in advancing our nation’s aerospace ecosystem. I’m glad to see the expansion of this critical partnership between government, educational institutions and industry, which will help expand our space workforce pipeline, accelerate innovation, and boost the Central Coast’s economy and California as a whole.”
— U.S. Senator Alex Padilla

“The opportunity at Vandenberg is enormous — the U.S. commercial launch industry is on the cusp of a 60 to 100 percent increase in launch rates over the next five years, which the base is already seeing today. Delivering the workforce, the cutting-edge innovation and the community infrastructure needed to realize the economic benefit is going to take the kind of all-hands collaboration represented by this partnership.”
— U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal

“The payoff for this effort is high-quality, future-oriented jobs, and we’re pleased to welcome new partners in laying the groundwork for a fast-growing industry to take root and flourish on the Central Coast.”
— Santa Barbara County Supervisor Bob Nelson

“This expanding partnership reflects the growing regional commitment to doing our part to develop the community ecosystem needed to support Vandenberg and its increasing roster of commercial partners. Getting the pieces in place to reach our full mutual potential is a huge opportunity for the Central Coast.”
— Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann

“Through this collaboration between Cal Poly and our military base and regional partners, we can ensure that our region is home to some of the most cutting-edge research and development in the aerospace industry. Together, we will foster an atmosphere of innovation and success that produces world-class talent capable of propelling us into the future.”
— Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong

“Deloitte, through its specialized space practice and our team serving California, is privileged to support the Western Range and the regional innovation ecosystem. We’re thrilled to work alongside companies and stakeholders who are driving innovation in the space industry. Our teams are deeply committed to this ecosystem, and we look forward to continuing to support our clients and partners as they push the boundaries of space exploration.”
— Josh Nisbet, Principal at Deloitte