NASA Breaks Ground On New Shared Service Center

It's the culmination of a four-year-long effort to consolidate operational support services for America's Space Program. And it was only slightly delayed by America's greatest natural disaster.

"Both NASA workers and contract workers, including those from the Computer Sciences Corporation, were slated to first report here to work Monday, August 29th - the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall," says NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale.

A fact that makes the arrival of this day even more significant to the economic futures of South Mississippi and Louisiana.

"We've been through hell together in the last six months," says Mississippi Senator Trent Lott. "But this is, I believe, the ground breaking, the kick off of many, many good stories that are going to be told."

Stories that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour predicts will say much about the spirit of the 500 contract employees and civil servants who will work at the new NASA Shared Services Center.

"That's the way the coast renews, rebuilds, has a renaissance," says Barbour. "To get our people back to work. To work at high paying jobs like this."

Barbour also predicts the center will serve as a magnet for other jobs. But like the public/private partnership and the intergovernmental cooperation that brought it here, Congressmen Gene Taylor says only a continuation of cooperation will make that possible.

"I think you're going to see a lot of apartments built in the short term," says Taylor. "I think a heck of a lot of people, including myself, are looking at building Katrina Cottages. We've got to continue to get FEMA off their duffs on delivering trailers so people will have a place to live."

Still, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin is confident their new home will prove as solid a choice as the people who already call this area home.

"They believe in the spirit of hard work will make it right," says Griffin.