XCOR’s presence at airport was a benefit to community

5 Jul 2017

Author: Midland Reporter - Telegram

Midland Development Corp. board Chair Brent Hilliard was right when he called XCOR’s decision to lay off its workers in Midland and Mojave, California, “disappointing.”

It is very disappointing. There is another feeling stemming from the economic development agreement that apparently went belly up on Wednesday: This one stings.

However, this community has to be careful about knee-jerk reactions as we move forward. And while some Midlanders are celebrating this day as an MDC failure and a reason to do away with the type-4A tax, our recommendation is for everyone to relax.

Once all of the details of the XCOR unraveling are known, the right move would be to assess where we are as a community. On social media, the mood is to undo everything. Forget targeting the space industry, forget the spaceport, do away with the MDC and abolish the quarter-cent tax to fund economic development.

Using that logic, maybe oilmen should have just packed up and gone home after failing to strike oil on a first or second attempt.

We understand that this about tax money, but it is too early in the process to make drastic decisions. What we do know is that while the economic development deal with XCOR was $10 million, not all of that money was in the form of cash. Millions went to infrastructure and hangar development. And those improvements will remain for XCOR or the next company -- space-related or not.

Those improvements and the money spent on a business park at Midland International still have great potential to benefit this community. And whether XCOR and Orbital Outfitters had never decided to come to Midland, the airport was, is and will be the most valuable piece of economic development real estate in our community. Wednesday’s news doesn’t change that, and if XCOR officials never work another day in our community, that piece of real estate was in better shape than when XCOR arrived.

Years ago, before the XCOR deal, this newspaper took the unprecedented step of calling for the 4A tax to be put on the ballot. After the stinging news on Wednesday, some people probably want us to dust off that editorial. Our view, however, is that Midlanders need to take a breath and realize the MDC is coming into its own. New leadership has put MDC funds into road projects across town and leveraged smaller amounts of local taxpayer money to receive greater amounts of state funding that wouldn’t have come to Midland otherwise. The new philosophy is likely to pay off in finishing the north side of Loop 250 and improving other major corridors inside our city.

Will there need to be changes at the MDC or with the deals the MDC makes because of XCOR? That is very possible. But let’s put away the pitchforks and torches for a few moments. This community isn’t there yet.

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