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United Launch Alliance lands in Pueblo

PEDCO Chairwoman Barbra Vidmar, right, ULA's Bob Roberts and PEDCO President Jack Rink pose with exchanged gifts at Friday's announcement. Photo By Nick Naglich

United Launch Alliance, a launch service provider, announced a propulsion testing and manufacturing operation in Pueblo Friday that will create 34 jobs for the local economy by Oct. 2017.

The average pay is expected to be $64,000 plus benefits, according to Bob Roberts, ULA’s director of propulsion systems. The range of pay is expected to be around $40,000 on the low end and $80,000 on the high end.

“We will have actual rocket scientists here,” Roberts said. There will also be several manufacturing jobs at the operation.

Roberts said ULA is very interested in the welding and technician programs offered by local community colleges. Those programs could contribute to the manufacturing jobs, which will likely be on the low end of the pay spectrum, he said.

Upon approval from the city, ULA will receive $2 million from the half-cent sales tax fund, which is reserved for companies that relocate to or expand in Pueblo and also provide primary jobs. County commissioners will vote to approve a 50 percent personal property tax for the next five years.

“This was an easy decision,” said Buffie McFadyen about the incentive.

City Council President Steve Nawrocki, PEDCO chairwoman Barbara Vidmar and Latino Chamber of Commerce Sandy Gutierrez all welcomed ULA at the announcement, which took place at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.

“The people who say pueblo can’t attract good companies …. should get out of the way of the people doing it,” said PEDCO Executive Director Jack Rink echoing the excitement from other community leaders.

The Pueblo manufacturing and testing site will be one of three around the country and the smallest. ULA has manufacturing operations in Texas and Alabama. The reasoning for having several manufacturing sites, Roberts said, is because rockets are most often too large to transport great distances.

ULA  has seven offices around the U.S. including its headquarters in Denver. The company, a 50-50 venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has launched 98 rockets with a 100 percent success rate. The company has launched rockets for NASA, the U.S. Air Force and other governmental agencies since its formation in 2006.

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Written by Kara Mason

Kara Mason is PULP's news editor. She is also the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter president. Kara freelances for other regional publications, covering government, politics and the environment.

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