ANTELOPE VALLEY : $51-Million Plan Offered to Lure Defense Facility

Lancaster and Palmdale, jumping into a fierce nationwide competition to provide a home for a Defense Department finance center that will bring up to 4,000 jobs with it, offered Wednesday to spend $51 million on an office complex for the installation--more than either city's annual budget.

Representatives of both cities, who plan to fly to Washington, D.C., this weekend to submit their proposal by Monday's federal deadline, said they desperately want the jobs to offset the loss in aerospace employment in the Antelope Valley in the past two years.

But the cities conceded their potentially costly offer is a long shot. Federal officials expect to get 100 to 200 proposals from across the country, including others from California. But they plan to establish only three to six such centers nationwide, each employing 4,000 or 7,000 people.

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