Economic Development

Space Foundation Highlights Opportunities in Next Frontier

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Space Foundation welcomed opportunities in the space-based technology markets during a one-day workshop at Youngstown State University Tuesday. 

In partnership with the Youngstown Business Incubator and YSU, The Space Foundation hosted the workshop to also address the most common challenges companies face in growing their space-based technology businesses. There were more than 50 participants in the workshop in industries including agriculture, food service, education and aerospace. 

The workshop is a part of a nationwide space commerce program to assist businesses with emerging opportunities in the space-based technology markets. Right now, the global space economy is $414 billion, a figure expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley, said Shelli Brunswick, chief operating officer of The Space Foundation.

“We want folks right here in Youngstown to be able to benefit from that,” Brunswick said. “It’s more than astronauts and launch vehicles. It’s about healthcare, pharmaceuticals, big data, manufacturing and technology jobs.”

There are many opportunities in space commerce that people don’t think about on a daily basis, said Diane Dimeff, chief adviser of the space commerce program at The Space Foundation, including telecommunications, finance, agriculture and medical devices, she added. 

Not everyone may be interested in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, or STEM, but STEM is starting to add another facet: art.

“The art of this is very critical,” she said. “There’s digital media that all of these space-based technology companies need. There’s the media types of writing that they need to do. The artistic piece of it, even in developing technologies and what a satellite might look like. We need artists to come in and help work with the engineers on that.” 

In addition, there are service chains that give people opportunities in media, web design and in managing facilities, she said. Aerospace relies heavily on all of these industries, she added. 

“Everyone can be in the space commerce industry,” Dimeff said. “For the people who are in attendance, [the workshop] will give them a sense of how their current companies might use space-based technologies to be more efficient in the development of the company and the delivery of products and services to their target customers.”

Founded in 1983, The Space Foundation focuses on space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events such as the annual Space Symposium. 

One of the challenges the industry is facing is a significant shortage of workers in space-based technology, Dimeff said. This ranges from engineering to quality control personnel to facility managing positions, she added.

“In healthcare, remote surgery is important,” she said. “Cataract surgery is based on space technologies and mammograms. Beyond just space, there are space-related career tracts.” 

The Youngstown area also has a fair amount of aerospace job opportunities with the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the NASA Glenn Research Center a day’s drive away, Dimeff said. 

For people who could not attend the workshop, there are 15 free webinars available on The Space Foundation’s website, SpaceFoundation.org, Brunswick said. 

The workshop is also to connect people with the tools that are available in the community that will help grow businesses and how to receive funding, Brunswick said. 

“All those activities are here at the workshop to help businesses understand how to grow, thrive, find funding and eventually take over the world,” she said. 

The Space Foundation’s goal is to inspire, educate and connect the global space community and that’s the community in Youngstown, Brunswick said.

“It’s important that the community knows this Space Foundation from Boulder, Colo., sought us out and they said, ‘There are many good things happening in Youngstown,’ ” said Michael Hripko, vice president of external affairs, government relations and economic development at YSU. 

The Space Foundation wanted to associate themselves with Youngstown because it’s on the rise from a technology standpoint and to be able to help cultivate businesses for any number of industries, Hripko said.

“The space industry is a broad spectrum of different types of businesses,” said Barb Ewing, CEO of YBI. “It’s not all rocket fuel. It’s everything from soup to nuts and there are opportunities for procurement and contracts within that that everybody should be looking at.” 

Today’s workforce is looking for different opportunities than what they were looking for 50 years ago, Ewing said. Studies show that people no longer expect to go to work for the same company and stay there for 50 years, she added. 

“Employees are looking for flexibility, different benefits and opportunities to advance that we didn’t think about in the past,” Ewing said. “Employers need to be sensitive to what their best and brightest employees are looking for and how they can engage with the community to bring people in.” 

Pictured: Michael Hripko, Youngstown State vice president in external affairs, government relations and economic development; Shelli Brunswick, chief operating officer of The Space Foundation; Diane Dimeff, chief advisor for space commerce at The Space Foundation and Youngstown Business Incubator CEO Barb Ewing were among the speakers at the foundation’s workshop Tuesday.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.