ST. MARYS — Georgia Secretary of State and governor’s candidate Brian Kemp has announced his support for a proposed spaceport in Camden County.

Kemp addressed the issue during a campaign meet-and-greet event Saturday at the St. Marys Eagles club. In an interview after his speech, Kemp explained more about his support for the proposed project.

“As governor, I will partner with local leaders to ensure that every part of our state has the opportunity to thrive,” he said. “Spaceport Camden will create jobs, strengthen the local community, and further highlight our state’s commitment to innovation and progress.”

Kemp said he was impressed by Camden County’s efforts to attract a billion-dollar industry to the state.

“Many rural counties in our state are struggling with declining incomes while metro communities thrive,” he said. “We must find new opportunities in rural Georgia that create a better, brighter future for our families.”

The state will have to work with the county to ensure the success of a spaceport by building a “lasting infrastructure that will withstand the test of time,” he said.

Kemp said he will support construction of a technical college in Kingsland to support the needs of a spaceport, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay and two Coast Guard units in Camden County. As governor, Kemp said he would “champion rural Georgia” and support counties that pursue innovative development initiatives.

“I am impressed by their efforts and look forward to being on-site for the first launch,” he said. “I applaud Camden County for identifying an emerging industry and working so hard to take advantage of it. Camden and the entire southeast Georgia will benefit from this initiative and the jobs it creates.”

Camden County Administrator Steve Howard said he has discussed the spaceport with Kemp and believes they both share the common goal of providing new jobs in Coastal Georgia.

“Of course, we are thrilled to have Brian Kemp’s support and we hope that all candidates running for governor will take the opportunity to come to Camden county to see the wonderful opportunity we have in Spaceport Camden,” he said. “But what is particularly encouraging is that Secretary Kemp understands that rural economic development requires an out-of-the-box approach.”

Howard said it’s uncertain what type of state assistance is available if the Federal Aviation Administration approves a spaceport after an environmental assessment is completed later this year.

“To date, we haven’t asked Atlanta to help with this project, so it’s hard to foretell what sort of state government assistance we might ask for in the future,” he said. “But the most important support we need right now, Secretary Kemp has already provided. We need more elected officials to understand the challenges of rural development and to recognize the value of unique opportunities like Spaceport Camden.”