Go For Launch: Activating the Space Economy in the Appalachian Region

Mar 9, 2023

PITTSBURGH (March 9, 2023 ) — With support from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the Keystone Space Collaborative (Keystone Space) has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Committee (ARC). The two-year grant will support the Keystone Space Collaborative’s initiative to grow the space economy and space-related workforce in the Appalachian counties of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“The Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia counties comprising the Appalachian Region have had a long history of supporting the nation’s space and defense innovation initiatives through the robust supplier base that is scattered throughout the region. The Keystone Space Collaborative is committed to emboldening and further developing the space industry in the tri-state region (OH, PA and WV), given the significant impact that the growing global space economy is projected to have on innovation-oriented economic growth and job creation,” said Justine Kasznica, Board Chair of the Keystone Space Collaborative. “The partnership with ARC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that this grant will enable is a critical step in executing on the much larger initiatives we have planned with the goal of inclusive prosperity among all Appalachian communities— whether space-related or space-relevant – within the tri-state region.”

The global space economy is currently valued at over $450 billion, with projections to grow to over $1 trillion between 2030 and 2040. According to a 2021 Bryce Tech space industry report commissioned by the Keystone Space Collaborative, Pennsylvania currently has nearly 300 space ecosystem participants ranging from the public, private and institutional sectors that generate nearly $1.5 billion in space-relevant federal spending per year. A NASA Economic Impact Report released in October 2022 stated that NASA labor expenditures and procurements generate $378 million in economic impact and support nearly 2,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.

Keystone Space programs and initiatives that will benefit from the two-year funding include web-based, space-relevant education to support continued development of a well-rounded space industry workforce, workshops and educational lectures, the Keystone Space Annual Conference that convenes space industry stakeholders and leaders, and state-specific strategic planning workshops to inform the development of a bold five-to-ten year strategic plan for the tri-state region.

The ARC supports economic development throughout West Virginia, most of Pennsylvania and a large portion of Ohio, making support of the Keystone Space Collaborative a strategic move, given the organization’s proud commitment and presence in the three states. With Pennsylvania’s available ARC funding, the state recognized the value of regional collaboration with neighboring states on Appalachian based projects.

“We are working to reignite Pennsylvania’s economy and investing in economic development in the Appalachian region is critical to seeing success,” said DCED Acting Secretary Rick Siger. “Working to support and grow Pennsylvania’s foothold in the space industry brings jobs to the region and boosts the economy.”

Since its inception in 2021, the Keystone Space Collaborative has proven there is strong interest to develop a sustainable space economy in the region. The ARC grant is the latest in an impressive lineup of support for the organization, whose backers include Astrobotic Technology, Nova Space, Sierra Space, Babst Calland, Moonshot Museum, R.K. Mellon Foundation, Hillman Family Foundation and several other philanthropic organizations and in-kind sponsors.

“Support from ARC is key in expanding the Keystone Space Collaborative’s footprint farther into all of the states we serve,” said Zoë Karabinus, Keystone Space Collaborative Program Director. “The foundation of Keystone Space is connection and collaboration, so this commitment to the entire Appalachian region is a big step in planning many broader initiatives to come.”


ABOUT THE KEYSTONE SPACE COLLABORATIVE: Founded in 2021, the Keystone Space Collaborative is the tri-state’s premier space organization committed to attracting, growing and amplifying the next generation of space industry businesses and talent in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. By convening people passionate about space, the Keystone Space Collaborative aims to attract more opportunities for job creation, inclusive prosperity and growth in this fast-growing sector. To learn more, visit keystonespace.org.