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PALMDALE OKS ZONE EXPANSION.

Byline: Jim Skeen Daily News Staff Writer

Palmdale officials gave conditional approval to a plan to expand the Antelope Valley's enterprise zone to attract the launch site for a future spaceship.

Palmdale officials say they will agree to the 3,760-acre expansion provided that the Antelope Valley is indeed selected as the launch site for VentureStar, a reusable spaceship being developed by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. A site selection tentatively is scheduled for late 1999.

By giving conditional approval, they say, Lockheed Martin officials can calculate the tax benefits of an enterprise zone when evaluating the Antelope Valley.

``We approved the enterprise zone expansion with the condition that it would happen when it is needed - when VentureStar is ready to go,'' said Councilman David Myers. ``They (Lockheed Martin) can count on it. It's not a maybe, it's a definite.''

The City Council gave the approval with a 4-0 vote Wednesday night.

About 60 square miles of the Antelope Valley were designated an enterprise zone Feb. 1, 1997. Businesses in the zone are eligible for state tax credits, including credits on equipment purchases, interest deductions for lenders making loans to a business in the zone, and hiring credits for workers hired through certain programs.

State regulations limit the expansion of an enterprise zone to 15 percent of the original territory. The expansion plan proposed by the city of Lancaster would use 63.4 percent of the available capability.

The Antelope Valley is competing with such areas as New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Virginia for the VentureStar launch site.

Lockheed Martin officials envision flight tests for VentureStar to begin in 2004. The goal of the vehicle is to lower the cost of launching a payload into space from $10,000 a pound to less than $1,000.

Lockheed Martin is building in Palmdale a prototype designated the X-33, which will test the technologies the company plans to use on VentureStar. Flights reaching speeds of 13 times the speed of sound are scheduled to begin in 1999 from Edwards Air Force Base.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 11, 1998
Words:339
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