Cecil Field Spaceport & JAX’s Space Travel Industry Growth

Suppose you have never heard of Jacksonville’s Cecil Field Spaceport and the exciting new space travel industry. In that case, you’re going to love today’s Not Your Average Investor Show episode featuring Mark VanLoh as he shares exciting future of Cecil Field Spaceport and Jacksonville’s involvement in the space travel industry!

Before Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos ever came into the scene of space exploration, human spaceflight, and the opportunity for space tourists to pay big money for their space adventures, Florida had a thriving aerospace industry since the 1960s.

Many decades ago, Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, was a booming military base. Even though the military base was closed decades ago, Cecil Field has the only runway approved for horizontal take-off for spaceships on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

As the commercial space travel industry hits a tipping point thanks to some recent, high profile civilian astronauts, the head of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, Mark VanLoh, joins the show to share with you what Jacksonville is doing to capitalize on it.

In this episode, we talked with Mark VanLoh about:

  • What the Jacksonville’s Spaceport is, what types of space travel will launch from our space complex, and what that means for the local economy
  • How Jacksonville’s four airports drive major economic factors of Jacksonville’s booming economy
  • The way the Jacksonville Aviation Authority uses housing data to bring direct flights to JAX airport and what that means for investors

The History of Cecil Field

After the military base was closed, Cecil Field was handed over to the city. Seeing an enormous opportunity for growth, Cecil Field became the first airport in Florida to have a space license. We can launch commercial space cargo from our horizontal launch facility. 

When we say horizontal launch facility, not many people understand what that means for a spacecraft. It takes off like a regular airplane, and the rocket is attached to the back of the aircraft. Once it gets up to altitude, the rocket takes off the plane, returning to the airport. From Cecil Field Spaceport, you can launch small satellites at a fraction of the cost of a heavier or larger-scale vertical launch.

Is this being done in other parts of the country? No, not yet. There are additional spaceport licensees, but they have not yet had their first rocket test. At Cecil Field Spaceport, the Department of Defense is currently doing some testing.

If you look at the competition within Florida for the aerospace industry, like Cape Canaveral and the Space Coast, they have busier launch schedules for smaller launches. It can take longer than businesses want to wait to launch their commercial cargo. Therefore, the space travel industry has room to grow in Jacksonville.

Where is Cecil Field Spaceport located?

It’s in the Westside of Jacksonville, Florida. We are very excited that this area of JAX is poised for growth. 

Many people work from home and want to live in Florida. Jacksonville is one of the top 5 cities for people to relocate to, and it allows you to talk around the world via communication satellites. Therefore, a lot of how we work today is permitted because of the communication satellite growth.

Cecil Field Spaceport has a very long runway and thousands of acres for growth. There are going to be many people moving into the Westside of Jacksonville to live near the Boeing facility that is located there.

What does the Jacksonville Aviation Authority do?

The JAA runs the Jacksonville International Airport, but we also work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors’ Bureau to attract more people to Jacksonville. We also have small airports like Herlong and Craig Airports, which have smaller private or corporate planes. 

It can be less expensive to rent a corporate jet so you can fly your team to your corporate event. Renting planes, having commercial airliners, and other convenient ways to fly is a growing industry, and business travelers can save money if they choose corporate jets, even if it’s a short flight from St. Augustine to Jacksonville.

The sharing economy helps manifest changes, like Airbnb, corporate jets that you can rent, and working from home via teleconferencing. What seemed like the impossible, like space travel, gets closer to reality through what is going on at Cecil Field Spaceport.

What do people have to say about the Jacksonville International Airport?

We often win the Customer Index award from the Airports Council for several years, and this means we are a pleasing airport to customers who are not from here. The standard for airports is pretty low. JAX is bright, open, airy, jazz musicians, art galleries, and more! Some claim JAX is the best airport in the whole country. 

Mark said that when you land in JAX, you immediately feel like you’ve arrived in Florida.

What do you look for when trying to recruit a direct flight?

Direct flights show a direct correlation with how well the economy is going. The Department of Transportation keeps great records on who is flying where. That helps JAX determine which direct flights we want to recruit.

Many California companies want to relocate to Florida, and the lack of direct flights from LAX or SFO deter those companies from moving to JAX. Mark said that JetBlue is now doing direct flights from Los Angeles. 

The JAA is doing everything we can to get the airlines’ attention. They want to know how many butts in seats will take place so they can make money. That is the defining factor of how JAX can recruit direct flights.

Do we see more opportunities for direct flights since the population of JAX is growing?

Yes! Two weeks ago, we started non-stop service to Austin, TX from JAX. There is a lot of connectivity between Jacksonville’s port and Puerto Rico, so we now offer non-stop service to San Juan starting in November 2021.

We also talked to the Mayo Clinic, which has several locations around the country. We want to connect the Mayo Clinic campuses with direct flights so the doctors and nurses can travel to JAX more easily.

We can attract more air traffic if we can see the data trending towards more butts in seats. We are doing what we can to fly directly to London after the pandemic is over. There is no secret that the Jacksonville Jaguars can attract more people to fly to as well.

How much of an economic impact does an airport have?

The JAX airport brings over $3B of revenue. Many people in JAX stay overnight in hotels, which pumps a lot of dollars into our local economy. You get crews staying overnight in hotels, plus all of the people and jobs that tie into the different routes around the country. 

Just like the Port of Jacksonville and the technology accelerators in Jacksonville that support our job base, the airports also contribute to population growth. The next level is the Cecil Field Spaceport and the space travel industry! 

If you are wondering where to invest, turnkey rental properties in Jacksonville, FL, are terrific to buy real estate and single-family home rentals. When you look at the affordability of real estate in JAX, plus the growth of the travel industry, the data shows that Jacksonville is a safe bet for real estate investors.

How do we know where people have second properties?

You can look at the public records to piece data today where you can make critical economic decisions. You can see their ZIP codes to see where their primary and secondary residences are located.

How many people live in AZ and have a condo on the beach in JAX? Many people who live elsewhere reside part-time in Florida’s First Coast, which incorporates Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

How will tech migration affect Jacksonville?

You don’t need to be living in the snow, ice, and states of high taxes if you don’t want to. The travel industry is poised to transport residents and business travelers to Florida, and the JAA intends to capture more of that traffic. We are the largest city in the United States, and we feel we can soon attract more technology companies to relocate to Jacksonville.

What are the measures for success in the Jacksonville Aviation Authority?

The number of passengers is important. In 2019, JAX was the fastest-growing medium airport in the country. We want the airlines and the customers to be happy. If we know the customers are satisfied, that’s good for business overall.

Is it the number of hotels and event space? Yes, that’s important too. If you have plenty of places for travelers to stay, that attracts more revenue. The growth along the St. John’s Riverfront is exciting, and the addition of convention hotels and residential spaces will help attract more visitors.

Not many people are aware that Jacksonville is on the beach! When people find out that JAX has beachfront property, there is more economic activity because tourists want to hit the beach.

Downtown Jacksonville is growing, and with more residents, businesses, and convention activity going on there, it will help anyone who owns rental properties.

In July 2021, we had a convention with 700 attendees who wanted to do something after their event. Visitors quickly booked up the restaurants with visitors, and the water taxis offered fun memories for these folks. 

If we can grow our Shipyards project and attract more boutiques downtown, we will see continued growth. There is a cluster effect of a small area extending in its development. It attracts more people to make a world-class destination.

How does Mark think about real estate when moving to Jacksonville?

Early on in Mark’s career, he purchased a home everywhere he lived. He likes to invest in the community and buy a house. 

When the mayors change hands, Mark often moves because that is the nature of a political position. When he moved to New Jersey, he did not buy a house because the mortgage interest was double digits, so he stayed in rental spaces.

Are there any expansions for the Jacksonville International Airport?

Yes, we are adding 6 – 12 new gates between Terminals A and C. It will have more shops and an airline club as well. We couldn’t continue this project during COVID, but we are ramping up again to put us back on schedule.

Why do we need this expansion? JAX is a parking lot for many airplanes, and there are not enough gates to host them all. It takes a long time to build a terminal, so it’s wise to start now. We are excited about this endeavor.

How Do I Find Out More About Investing With JWB? 

Contact the JWB team to begin the discussion. If you want to invest in Jacksonville real estate, now is a great time to jump in. Go to www.ChatWithJWB.com and find out how we can help you reach your financial goals.

If you want to become part of the JWB online community, join us in the JWB Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/CashFlowProperties.  

You can also go to www.JWBInventory.com to see what properties are currently available. We encourage you to contact the JWB team for a consultation to determine how our turnkey rental properties can deliver positive passive cash flow. 

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Cecil Field Spaceport, the space travel industry, and how Jacksonville’s airports contribute to the local economy. If you are a real estate investor who wants to purchase turnkey single-family homes from JWB, contact us today at www.ChatWithJWB.com. The Jacksonville real estate market is on track for continuous growth, and JWB is excited to help many investors grow their wealth through single-family home rentals.

To Your Success,

Gregg Cohen

By Gregg Cohen

I am a co-founder at JWB Real Estate Capital, and I love to talk about investing in rental properties! You’ll often find me here contributing to our blog and in our Facebook group connecting with the community & sharing insights.

Related Articles