Elon Musk wants to fill the Rio Grande Valley with rocket scientists. Specifically, if Musk has his way, the little hamlet of Boca Chica Village could become one of our nation’s most educated towns.
Musk, who began efforts to buy out the development’s few residents soon after he began establishing the rocket testing and launch site at Boca Chica Beach just a few hundred yards away, has approached Cameron County officials about incorporating the site as a city called Starbase, County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. reported last month.
Last week, Musk put out a call for high-tech workers on his personal Twitter page:
“Please consider moving to Starbase or Greater Brownsville/South Padre area in Texas & encourage friends to friends to do so! SpaceX’s hiring needs for engineers, technicians, builders & essential support personnel of all kinds are growing rapidly,” Musk announced. “Starbase will grow by several thousand people over the next year or two.”
Developing Starbase will require a major investment from the billionaire. It’s miles away from any other developed area, and lacks basic necessities including water and sewer lines. It appears, however, that Musk is willing to make that investment.
Major expansions already are planned for the size and scope of the Boca Chica rocket facility. The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing SpaceX’s request to expand its operations beyond those initially planned. It seeks permission to launch rockets to higher altitudes than originally permitted, including suborbital and orbital missions — even, perhaps, manned missions.
This creates major opportunities for Valley residents, including students and graduates of the strong engineering and astronomy programs at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Musk’s two-year window, however, means people will have to move into the area to fill most of the announced jobs.
That will create opportunities in other areas. Nick Mitchell-Bennett, executive director of Come Dream Come Build, recently told our staff writer Steve Clark that currently there isn’t enough housing to accommodate such a large influx of people. This will necessitate new housing developments, both at Starbase and other parts of the Valley, meaning a high level of construction jobs for the next several years.
Musk also recognizes that his workers will want entertainment options, and he has pledged $10 million toward the revitalization of downtown Brownsville. Any new food and entertainment venues would benefit both new and current residents.
The remoteness of Starbase also offers a chance to build adjacent nature-based recreation sites that maintain a level of respect and support for the area’s unique wildlife and flora.
Musk also has announced more investment in local schools. This adds to cooperative agreements the he already has made with campuses ranging from middle schools to the university, community colleges and technical schools.
The investments and announcements indicate a long-term commitment that could bring a wide range of benefits to the Rio Grande Valley and its residents for a long time.
Full credits to the owner of this article and photo.