Although the headquarters for the growing Space Force Space Training and Readiness Command has been located for the last nearly 2 years in Colorado Springs, a permanent location is now set for a base across the country in Brevard County, Florida.
After months of uncertainty, the Air Force Department has announced that the Patrick Space Force Base in Florida along the Atlanta coast, will be the permanent home for what is known as STARCOM.
STARCOM’s mission is to prepare combat-ready Guardians belonging to the U.S. Space Force to fight and win in what is described as an “operationally limited environment,” with an emphasis on space warfighting doctrine, tactics, and procedures.
An Air Force press release also indicated that the Kirtland Air Force Base, just to the southeast of Albuquerque, is the “preferred location” for the Space Delta 11; with the Schriever Space Force Base, 10 miles to the east of Colorado Springs, tabbed as the Space Delta 12 location.
The selection of the three sites, notes the Air Force in a statement, “came after conducting site surveys at each location to assess their ability to facilitate the mission and infrastructure capacity, while accounting for community support, environmental factors, and cost.”
The Air Force announcement came after intense lobbying on the part of several Colorado officials to keep STARCOM in Colorado Springs. STARCOM began its operations in the Centennial State’s second largest metro area in the late summer of 2021.
Although many of those officials expressed disappointment that STARCOM will not remain in Colorado Springs, the selection of Schriever for Space Delta 12 was applauded.
“Colorado is the epicenter of our nation’s intelligence and national security space operations,” remarked Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper in a statement, “and basing these new units permanently in Colorado Springs only underscores that point.”
Delta 12, operating under the direction of STARCOM, is tasked with testing and evaluating space systems to determine both their survivability and suitability.
By Garry Boulard
New legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives with the goal of addressing the ongoing lack of workers in industries across the country.
The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act, as proposed by Pennsylvania Representative Lloyd Smucker, will create a new nonimmigrant visa classification, authorizing employees to work in the U.S. for a period of at least 3 years.
The visa classification, which is a part of the Immigration and National Act, will essentially establish a market-driven visa system designed to help employers find more laborers. The bill will also require the use of the E-verify system in order to make certain that only legal immigrants are hired.
Smucker’s legislation will additionally mandate that such immigrant workers will be paid fair wages, using local wage data.
The measure has won the support of the National Association of Home Builders, which has issued a statement contending that “such a temporary, flexible system would help address the chronic labor shortage in the residential construction industry.”
An additional source of support has been announced via Chip Rogers, chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, who said, also in a press release, that the bill “would prove critical in helping hotels fill more than 100,000 jobs currently open across the nation.”
The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act, otherwise known as HR 3734, is currently under review in both the House Committee on the Judiciary as well as the Committee on Ways and Means.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are underway for the construction of a 415,000 square-foot speculative distribution center that will go up in an increasingly popular southern Arizona industrial corridor.
The New York-based Rockefeller Group, one of the largest real estate investment firms in the world, has purchased some 25 acres in the city of Surprise to build the project.
The private company acquired those acres for $12 million, envisioning a structure with a 36-foot clear height, 83 dock doors, and 103 truck trailer parking stalls, among other amenities.
The project will also include custom-designed office space.
The Rockefeller Group was founded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., son of legendary oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. The company looms large in popular culture for developing during the Great Depression the famed 19-story complex known as the Rockefeller Center in New York.
Long known for its large, multi-story projects in New York and New Jersey, the company today is particularly active in the West, spearheading the development of the 200,000 square-foot Paradigm River North, an office development in downtown Denver; and purchasing this month for $8.5 million seven acres of land in north Las Vegas for the construction of two new speculative industrial buildings.
By Garry Boulard
New funding has been secured for the construction of a comprehensive cancer treatment center in El Paso.
Members of the Texas State Legislature have approved some $65 million in funds to be used for the project, to go up as part of a joint effort by the University Medical Center of El Paso and the Texas Tech University Health Science Center.
The project has been long in the talking stage and has included interested partners at both the state and local level. In a statement, Jacob Cintron, chief executive officer of the University Medical Center, remarked that the funding “begins the journey to fill an incredible need,” while also eliminating the need for “El Pasoans to seek care elsewhere.”
Altogether, the cancer center, to go up on the Medical Center of the Americas campus, is expected to cost around $97 million to build. The 90,000 square-foot structure will house everything from chemotherapy to radiation to imaging services.
If all goes as planned, work could begin on the center sometime in 2024, with a rough completion date of early or mid-2026.
By Garry Boulard
The House of Representatives, in a big vote, has passed a debt ceiling bill just days before a predicted June 5 default.
The margin of the vote caught many by surprise, with 165 Democrats and 149 Republicans supporting legislation that will extend the debt limit for another two years.
The measure also puts in place a two-year budget agreement.
In comments after the vote, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy remarked: “You are getting so many wins for the American people in this bill.”
McCarthy added that the legislation does not mean an increase in federal spending: “There’s no new government programs. There’s no tax increases. There’s nothing in the bill that you really should be negative about.”
The measure suspending the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling is now on its way to the U.S. Senate. Although President Biden and Democrat leaders in the upper chamber have called for action to avert a potentially cataclysmic default on the nation’s debt, the obstacles remain formidable.
Because it’s a revenue measure, the bill must get at least 60 votes before winning approval in the Senate.
As now proposed, the legislation will suspend the U.S. debt ceiling up to the first day of 2025. With that date intact, both President Biden and Congressional leaders will presumably have more leeway to tackle additional thorny budget reduction issues.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned if the debt limit is not raised by June 5, the federal government would be put in the historic position of having to default on various obligations.
In a separate but related development, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office issued a new report predicting that if the current debt ceiling bill before Congress is approved, it could reduce the federal government’s projected deficit by around $1.5 trillion between now and 2033.
In a letter sent to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the CBO also forecast that the “interest on the public debt would decline by $188 billion.”
A large group of Republican lawmakers in the House opposed the legislation saying it failed to increase the work requirements for a federal food aid program.
Democrats, on the other hand, expressed frustration regarding environmental as well as defense spending matters.
Washington Democrat Representative Pramila Jayapal told the publication Axios: “I do think it’s important that we put up a very strong ‘no’ vote and that we don’t give them one more vote than what they need.”
New Mexico Democrat Representative Gabe Vasquez earlier announced that he would support the debt ceiling bill “that will keep our Social Security benefits intact,” while Arizona Republican Andy Biggs, in his weekly newsletter, cast doubts on the arguments being used to support a debt limit bill.
Questioning how Secretary Yellen has forecast a June 5 default deadline, Biggs remarked that Congress should not be forced “into cutting a deal that doesn’t serve our interests.”
By Garry Boulard
A production and broadcasting studio located around 5 miles to the north of downtown Phoenix at 6135 N. Seventh Street is on the market for $8.9 million.
The two-story, 26,000 square-foot facility belongs to the popular national radio host Kim Komando, whose show emphasizes consumer technology issues.
Listed originally by realtors Cushman & Wakefield, the property had a previous asking price of $13 million and included all the facility's studio equipment.
The studio equipment for the property, which is now listed by SVN Desert Commercial, has since been removed, explaining the newer and lower asking price.
The structure in question is designated as a Class B building and was built in 1984 and substantially renovated in 2016. The building also includes airy lobby space, and both office and studio space.
The structure formerly served as offices for CSW Contractors and the All Care Medical Group.
Broadcast over more than 430 radio stations in the U.S., the Kim Komando Show is distributed by the WestStar Talk Radio Network, which is based in Phoenix and owned by Komando and her husband Barry Young.
Komando, whose radio show is heard in nearly 200 countries on Armed Forces Radio, has also maintained studio facilities in Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara.
By Garry Boulard
There are currently more than 4,000 active capital outlay projects underway across New Mexico, according to a new legislative report, with that number likely to increase to some 5,000 in the next several months.
The complete number of projects to be enacted is one of the key points made in a report released by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, revealing that the state's outstanding capital outlay funds as of this spring had a total dollar worth of $3.1 billion.
That $3.1 billion figure includes $1.8 billion in projects earlier authorized by members of the legislature and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham; as well as some $258 million in what are known as earmark projects; and another $463 million in supplemental severance tax bonds for public schools.
Sometimes a source of controversy among lawmakers and public policy advocates who have argued that such a process is both cumbersome and wasteful, capital outlay funds can be used for everything from building and upgrading schools, hospitals, playgrounds, museums, and broadband infrastructure, to purchasing land for construction projects.
Bolstered in part by a continuing rise in oil and gas revenue, the dollar value of capital outlay projects statewide has increased from $47 million in 2019 to just over $314.2 million in 2022.
Similarly, local projects have seen a dollar increase from $108 million in 2019 to $375 million last year. Somewhat more uneven has been high education capital outlay funding which went from $11.9 million in 2019 to $132 million in 2020, before dropping to $36.8 million in the following year.
Capital outlay funding for higher education projects rebounded to a new high of $246 million in 2022.
The Senate Finance Committee report additionally notes that the "2023 capital package was the largest in the state's history." Even so, "capital outlay requests from state and local entities continued to exceed available funding."
Reflecting some of the criticism of the capital outlay process, the report adds that a "significant gap between need and available funds, along with the practice of earmarking funding for individual legislators and the governor, undermines the state's ability to use surging revenues to efficiently complete projects that represent the greatest needs or would produce the most public benefits."
By Garry Boulard
Whataburger Chain, Long Dominant in the West, Set to Build New Locations in the South
With a strong base of more than 150 stores in the West and growing, the Whataburger restaurant chain has announced plans to substantially expand its operations in the South.
Based in San Antonio, Whataburger’s largest state remains Texas where, to date, it has more than 720 locations. But the chain is seeing a future in the Deep South, particularly Alabama and Georgia where it has announced plans to build and open to 80 new locations between now and 2028.
Founded in 1950 in Corpus Christi and for decades known for its A-frame buildings bearing an iconic orange and white-striped design, Whataburger currently has more than 900 stores, generally ranging in size from 3,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet. Its largest location, at two stories and around 6,000 square feet, is in its home city of Corpus Christi.
Meanwhile, the chain’s presence in the West continues to increase, with three Whataburger locations opened in just the Colorado Springs area in the last year. The company has additionally in recent months unveiled new stores in the metro Phoenix area, as well as the Albuquerque metro area in Rio Rancho.
Altogether, the company currently has nearly 40 stores in Arizona, 4 in Colorado, and a dozen in New Mexico.
The chain got its name and reputation by offering burgers big enough to require a person to use two hands to hold them, thus exclaiming, “What a burger!”
The company in recent years has enjoyed annual revenues more than $2.6 billion.
By Garry Boulard
A cutting-edge amphitheater boasting the latest in new technology is slated to be a part of the growing $1 billion VAI Resort in Glendale, Arizona.
Plans for the construction of what has been described as the largest hotel and entertainment destination of its kind in Arizona, located at 9505 Cardinals Way, were announced in the spring of last year.
Spread out over 60 acres, the VAI Resort upon completion will include up to 1,200 hotel rooms and suites, as well as well as some 13 “elevated fine dining concepts,” and white sand beaches.
Focal point of the project has always been an island populated with an aerial bar, private cabanas, and restaurant, among other features.
The VAI concept from the start has been to create a kind of tropical resort oasis in the middle of the desert, with an endless variety of offerings worthy of the expected $500 a day price of admission.
Now added to those offerings is an amphitheater with an 8,000-seat capacity that, according to HNR Hotel News, “will showcase a wide range of entertainment, from A-list touring acts to up-and-coming talent and comedy superstars.”
The amphitheater is set for completion next year, with 2024 also expected to see the opening of the resort itself.
The project belongs to VAI Global Development, which is owned by Tommy Fisher and Grant Fisher, both of whom are the heads of the Tempe-based Fisher Industries.
By Garry Boulard
A Las Cruces-based organization dedicated to securing housing for those in need of it, has announced plans to build a new complex.
For roughly a quarter of a century, the nonprofit Mesilla Valley Community of Hope has been providing transitional shelter for homeless individuals and families in metro Las Cruces.
The group launched its efforts in early 1998 with the construction of a $1.6 million center at 999 W. Amador Avenue designed to provide an array of services to the homeless.
It opened what is called Camp Hope in 2011, a designated tent community for up to 50 people or so on land owned by the MVCH, with a roughly $65,000 shower and bathroom facility built on the same site in 2016.
A reporter for the publication Searchlight New Mexico late last year noted that Camp Hope is made up of “orderly rows of tents, most of them protected from the elements by three-sided lean-tos.”
Members of the Las Cruces City Council earlier gave their approval to the nearly $4 million purchase of 4.8 acres of land that formerly belonged to the Brewer Oil Company to be used for MVCH's purposes.
As planned, the project will see the construction of a three-story housing facility, along with an open-air courtyard. An existing health care facility run by MVCH will be expanded, while the group's busy soup kitchen will be moved to another part of the site.
An exact schedule for when work will begin on the MVCH facility project has not yet been announced.
By Garry Boulard
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