Photo courtesy of the North American Space Summit.

August 31, 2020: David Lyden & Kaleb Vinton, 9&10 News

Space is the focus of a conference happening this week at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

The North American Space Summit brings people from across the country to talk about the future of the space industry.

And you may be surprised to know the Traverse City area plays a major role.

Gavin Brown is the Executive Director of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association. He says the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the need for more and better space infrastructure to improve the ability to work, learn and access healthcare remotely especially in rural areas.

“The dramatic growth for instance for covid, bringing remote education, remote medicine, first responder to rural areas where we have under served with internet broadband connectivity, what we’re actually doing is improving our lives here on Earth by what we do in low Earth orbit space,” explained Brown.

And when it comes to getting that technology to space, Michigan is taking a starring role, with launch sites already selected in the Michigan Satellite Launch Initiative, the Grand Traverse area hopes the old Pugsley Correctional Facility can become command central for those sites.

“It’s also a space for our commercial interests as that grows in space with rural connectivity and being able to bring a non-interrupted connectivity to all of our areas in Michigan and our great nation,” said Lauren Tucker, Director of Business Development with GTED.

With the ultimate goal set on Michigan becoming a space state.

“We’re looking at with our programs for autonomous technology with 5G technology and LEO orbit, potentially bringing 40,000 jobs in 2 years so jobs and capital investment will continue after this,” said Brown.

“If we can expand our industries in space, that’s going to open up jobs, very high paying jobs, technician jobs, all over our state and specifically in our area,” said Tucker.