How much does NASA mean to Alabama? Nearly $3 billion, according to Gene Goldman, acting director of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Goldman, in a community briefing May 17, said the space agency’s economic impact in the state last year was $2.8 billion, The Huntsville Times reports. He said Marshall awarded $817 million in contracts to Alabama companies, more than a quarter of which were small businesses.

Goldman emphasized NASA’s effort to form more partnerships with business and academia. He said Marshall has cut the average time of negotiating Space Act Agreements from 285 days to 30 days and now has 250 such agreements in place.

READ IT AT: [The Huntsville Times]