PALMDALE — The world of global aerospace is about to get a lot smaller, and the Antelope Valley, with its aerospace legacy including Edwards Air Force Base, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and Northrop Grumman, can take advantage of that, according to author and geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan, who also touted the Valley’s green tech sector with solar and wind energy.
Zeihan, author of “The Accidental Superpower,” “The Absent Superpower” and “Disunited Nations,” was the keynote speaker for the 2021 Business Outlook Conference Winter Forum, hosted Wednesday morning by the Antelope Valley Economic Development and Growth Enterprise, also known as AV EDGE.
The annual conference was held virtually this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Veteran Los Angeles television news anchor Jeff Michael moderated the event.
Zeihan painted a positive outlook for the Antelope Valley and the potential for growth in aerospace and green tech.
“The hard part is actually already done,” said Zeihan, who was in Colorado.
The employers, advanced sectors, value-add and growth sectors are already here. The question then is how to encourage those employers to expand their presence to something with a broader employment base. Zeihan said.
The Antelope Valley, he added, is in a weird spot. The geography is not great for normal economic development. But it is “utterly unique and utterly perfect” for green tech and aerospace development.
And because of the geopolitical need for expansion in those two sectors, neither sector is particularly price-sensitive.
The solution to the Antelope Valley’s development path is deceptively simple, Zeihan said.
“Make the people who work in the Antelope Valley, both green tech and aerospace, people who are already here, want to be here,” Zeihan said.
Making those people happy is how subsidiary and supporting industries choose to relocate because is a quality of life issue.
Green tech and aerospace are in need of US locations for massive expansions because of the changes happening the global environment, Zeihan said. The goal is to get the people who are already here working in those sectors, mention within their organizations that they like being here.
“Once you’ve achieved that you will keep beating off investors,” Zeihan said. “And any educational and infrastructure gaps that you have will be very easy to identify.”
Aerospace and green tech are in need of a much bigger footprint, and they have to go somewhere, so why not go where it has already started, he said.
In response to a question about projections of a robust economic recovery, Zeihan agreed with the assessment for different reasons, predicated on whether the United States can finish its COVID-19 vaccinations in the first half of the year.
“North America’s it, so we have a pent-up demand that’s going to surge the economy,” Zeihan said. “We have this final year of capital availability, which is going to surge the economy, and the US, Mexico and Canada are the only countries that can really tap that. At the same time, we have a reshoring trend for reasons demographic, geopolitical and trade war. I don’t see how that doesn’t generate a massive boom across the United States.”
The caveat, Zeihan added, is that a lot of economies are not set up for outsize success. Given the past year and the many challenges with the COVID-19pandemic, Zeihan said we have been conditioned to scrape by.
“The idea of having explosive growth is almost alien to us, but I expect a 1990s-style boom,” Zeihan said. “But instead of happening across seven or eight years, being compressed into two or three, and that starts in July.”