KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - NASA's Kennedy Space Center encompasses 144,000 acres and has an inventory of 720 buildings and structures. According to a congressional subcommittee, 330 of those properties are unused or vacant.
"We're trying to do everything we can to turn the properties around -- the assets that are sitting idle, the property and buildings and facilities -- and get a return for the taxpayers," U.S. Rep. John Mica said.
NASA is currently collecting $580,000 in property leases at KSC, but that money is not profit.
"They've been taken off the taxpayer rolls, saving us previous dollars in operating expenses while enabling commercial space operations at the same time," KSC Director Bob Cabana said.
The space agency is working on new lease agreements, like a deal with SpaceX for use of launch complex 39A.
"There are many facilities and launch sites I think that we missed the boat in not commercializing or privatizing earlier," Mica said.
Mica pointed out that Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has 16,000 acres of its own and the Port Authority has expressed interest in leasing some of that acreage to expand its operations. That could lead to the creation of 5,000 jobs in 5 years.
Local space industry advocate Dale Ketcham said public-private partnerships will be key to the region's future success.
"The big goal here is the increasing commercial sector. That's where the money is, the innovation," Ketcham said.