UAH, Huntsville officials in Arizona today to woo National Solar Observatory employees
Posted By: HBCU Connect Sports on June 01, 2011 |
TUCSON, Arizona -- A time zone away with a lot at stake, the City of Huntsville will be on display today.
A delegation of about 30 community leaders is in Tucson, Ariz., as "Team Huntsville" pushes forward in its pursuit of luring the National Solar Observatory to the Deep South.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville was named one of two finalists last month as the NSO seeks a new home. The University of Colorado in Boulder is the other finalist.
Tucson is one of three bases for the NSO along with locations in New Mexico and Hawaii.
The NSO "is very important to us because it is another portion of our technological center of excellence that we have," Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who is among those in Arizona, told The Times on Wednesday.
"We've always worked in space; we've always worked with science and technology. We're working more with deep space right now, doing propulsion systems that go into deep space," he said. "This fits into our center of technology and center of excellence."
The delegation includes representatives from the cities of Huntsville and Madison, BRAC officials and a group from UAH. Among those on the trip are UAH Interim President Malcolm Portera, who is also chancellor of the University of Alabama System; Chairman of the Tennessee Valley BRAC Committee Joe Ritch; and Amy Furfori, Madison's director of economic development and planning.
Among the UAH officials are professors Gary Zank and Elizabeth Newton, and former NASA administrator and eminent scholar Michael Griffin. Zank, an eminent scholar and chair of the UAH physics department, and Newton, director of policy research programs at UAH, spearheaded the overall proposal effort.
Battle said the group will meet today with NSO employees to tout the Rocket City. The NSO's new home is expected to be announced by the end of the year.
"I think it's an important part of the picture," Battle said of the meeting with NSO employees. "When you're changing the headquarters from one place to another, the people who actually do the work need to be comfortable with that.
"Most of them don't know Huntsville, Alabama. That's our job, to let them know what Huntsville is about, what we actually do, what attributes the community has and how we can help the NSO continue to grow and be the vibrant organization that it is today."
A statement from UAH about the trip said officials are "conducting a series of informative presentations to raise the awareness among the NSO employees about the great quality of life that we enjoy in the Tennessee Valley."
UAH and Marshall Space Flight Center are at the forefront of the project, but it has backing throughout the city and state. Other members of "Team Huntsville" include representatives from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Sci-Quest, Alabama A&M University, Oakwood University and other regional universities, along with companies and government laboratories.
"We're down to the last two" contending communities, Battle said. "We want to put our best foot forward so they can understand what the Huntsville community has to offer and what the UAH community has to offer to the solar observatory."
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