As a native Mississippian, I am embarrassed to admit that I had never visited one of Mississippi’s greatest assets, the Stennis Space Center until a few weeks ago. In 1961, NASA selected this site in Hancock County to be the static test facility for launch vehicles (rockets) for use in the Apollo lunar program. At the time, it was the largest construction project in Mississippi and the second largest in the country. NASA tested the boosters used to launch vehicles into space there including the Apollo 11 mission which brought the first men to the moon. In the 1970’s, NASA added the Space Shuttle engine testing to Stennis. Today, this 1,400-acre federal “city” is one of the largest in the United States and is home to NASA and over 30 other state and federal agencies including the Naval Oceanographic Office, Naval Research Lab, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MsET).
MsET is a non-profit formed in 1994 as a business incubator and technology transfer office. It is a joint effort of NASA, the Mississippi Development Authority, and the state’s universities and was formed for the purpose of creating high wage, high skill technology jobs. MsET is headquartered in the Mississippi Technology Transfer Center on the Stennis campus, and over 30 companies have been incubated at MsET over the years. In 2009, companies that are tenants of MsET reported over $70 million in annual revenue for the prior year and $25 million paid in salaries. Sixteen of MsET’s business incubator graduates currently employ over 200 people in Mississippi.
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