With the final touchdown of Atlantis, about 5500 NASA employees and contractors have either lost their jobs or are expecting layoff notices. There's a real fear in the business community that much of this highly skilled workforce will bleed away from the region.
Walter Ulrich is president and CEO of the Houston Technology Center.
"This change of situation for them while in many ways is a tragedy also is a terrific opportunity. It is the largest pool of potential entrepreneurial talent that has been created in this country in twenty-five years."
Ulrich says the center is working closely with Johnson Space Center and other organizations to train laid off workers in how to start companies of their own.
"Our expectation is that, in five to seven years, the entrepreneurs will create more jobs than have been lost."
The Houston Technology Center plans to set up an entrepreneurial training facility in the Clear Lake area. It hopes to find a permanent site within three months. In the meantime, it will be holding classes at the JSC's Gilruth Center. Classes begin August 10.