Rail and renewables are two of the industries that are rapidly growing around Mojave Air and Space Port.
A report in The Bakersfield Californian (16 March 2009) says that while the rest of the county and the US generally tries to cope with recession, Mojave is having one of its best years yet.
Mojave's the place where Burt Rutan developed SpaceShipOne, and it seems to have the kind of entrepreneurial spirit associated elsewhere in the state of California with Silicon Valley. Indeed, a report on another site, The Space Review, speaks of it as just that – 'the Silicon Valley of NewSpace'.
The spaceport is, says the Bakersfield Californian with justifiable pride, 'home to the world's most eclectic collection of experimental aircraft, cowboy engineers and rebel aviators ever assembled by private enterprise.'
And out there in the Mojave Desert in southeastern Kern County – where the sun often shines and the wind always blows' – the space port and the surrounding region may, says the paper, 'be experiencing the first edge of the so-called Green Economy.'
You can get a flavour of the atmosphere of exploration and adventure from a promotional video for Mojave – it includes some scenes of SpaceShipTwo simulator testing.
One of the assets of Mojave is the huge amounts of open space around it, together with an arid climate. That makes it ideal for storing aircraft as well as flying them, and also for storing big items of equipment such as wind turbine blades.
That role has been further stimulated by the development of a second rail spur, which in turn has led to developments in rail engineering. A company based at Mojave refurbishes thousands of used train wheel assemblies – 'and sends them back to the rails by the truckload, ' says the Californian report.
The airport management team are looking forward to President Obama's stimulus package to boost opportunities for developments in wind and solar energy. They describe the region as 'poised' for growth.
In the meantime, they say, revenues from the airport's 40 tenant businesses are up by 11%.
Mojave's success suggests two things. First, that a spaceport stimulates engineering development round about it, the particular type of development depending on local conditions. Second, that the kind of entrepreneurs and innovators who are pioneering the new ideas for space exploration are the kind of people who attract others to locate alongside them.