BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A developer and advisor in the NewSpace industry is predicting great things for Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley.
Austin, Texas-based Joshua Littlejohn has been making frequent visits to the Valley to learn about its potential and advance his plans to bring investors to the region.
“What exciting times for Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley,” Littlejohn told the Rio Grande Guardian, during a zoom conversation. “It has the potential to be incredibly special.”
Littlejohn said Brownsville and the Valley came onto his radar when SpaceX first announced it was going to be testing and launching rockets at Boca Chica. Since then, he said, there have been “major inflection points” that have increased the chances of the region becoming an important part of the NewSpace industry.
“What is happening right now in the Rio Grande Valley, the success of this (recent SpaceX) mission has really energized the NewSpace economy,” Littlejohn said. “Even though there has not been a successful departure and return of any successful mission… just the energy in and of itself of coming to that region is attracting people. We have new companies, we have new interest.”
Littlejohn said he has known Brownsville Deputy City Manager Helen Ramirez since her days working in Central Texas. Ramirez is also executive director of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. Littlejohn praised GBIC for “increasing the specific integration points and acting as a conduit to bring activity to the Valley.”
Without mentioning names, Littlejohn spoke about one of the companies he is advising.
“I have now brought it to their attention that there are incentives that we can take advantage of, there is a relevant market for both the terrestrial application for the solution that that company has but also a path to integrate seamlessly into what is happening today and what will come tomorrow with respect to NewSpace.”
Littlejohn said the Port of Brownsville stands to benefit as SpaceX develops its projects at Boca Chica.
“As the spaceport develops and if and when a SpaceX starship leaves earth with a capacity it has and returns with that payload, that is another major inflection point,” Littlejohn said.
“So, what is interesting about the Rio Grande Valley is just its capacity to integrate and grow around that. It makes it very special. You have a port, so now, if a payload comes back… it can be shipped anywhere from the port.”
The potential for Brownsville and the region is huge, Littlejohn said.
“In the most idealized future state, what you could potentially have what equates to a modern day Silk Road from Space coming back into the Valley and all the things that that means. Not just related to NewSpace but also related to uplifting the Valley, uplifting the economy, and all the other cool things that come with such a thing.”
And if SpaceX is successful with interplanetary transportation, Littlejohn said, one can imagine the same thing: “The successful transportation of people and goods from either the Gulf of Mexico or the Port of Brownsville or Boca Chica. It is just a major, major, major, inflection point.”
From his visits already, Littlejohn said it is clear Brownsville is already very special. “It is exciting just to be integrating with those individuals and those organizations and looking for ways to add value to the things they have already done and are aspiring to do,” he said.
Littlejohn added: “A big part of what is making this experience so enjoyable is the people. None of this would be possible if there was resistance or opposition. I know there are concerns. We have to be prudent, we have to be responsible about the way we do anything. We have to make sure we are considering all stakeholders. I think that there is a fair amount of that taking place.
“My intention is to do the best that I can to bring interest and capital into the region. To work with existing organizations and companies to actually execute. That makes me enthusiastic because with a high degree of confidence I can go to people and say, look, this is the place to get this done. Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley is a special place and a place I am very much looking forward to realizing some of these initiatives.”
Here is the Rio Grande Guardian’s Zoom conversation with Joshua Littlejohn:
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