Illinois offers 200 acres for NGA West

Just as the period for public comment nears closure, authorities in southwestern Illinois are making a competitive play to land the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's forthcoming western campus.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Nov. 16 that he, along with local government leaders, would offer the intelligence agency more than 200 acres of land adjacent to Scott Air Force base at no cost. The offer comes in addition to a previous proposal for a 182-acre site near MidAmerica Airport, also at no cost, to build the NGA West facilities.

The move comes amid an ongoing tug-of-war between the city of St. Louis and other Missouri entities and officials from Illinois, who are all vying for NGA West. The estimated $1.6 billion western headquarters involves at least 3,000 jobs and significant revenue for whichever state gets the site.

NGA West's current facility is near downtown St. Louis. Missouri officials are proposing a new site of roughly 100 acres near the former Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis.

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the sparring political delegations have been holding rallies in support of their respective proposed sites. On Oct. 28, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), pressed for the St. Louis location, with Slay saying it is critically important for the city to keep the jobs and the earnings tax they pay to the city treasury. Losing that money could cost the city $2 million, according to an AP report.

Proponents of the Scott Air Force Base location, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, point out that the Defense Information Systems Agency maintains important fiber optic cables near the base, and that NGA's main headquarters in Springfield, Virginia, are also adjacent to a military facility, Fort Belvoir.

"I understand the other side. They want to fight for their side. But on the merits, we have the stronger location." Durbin said in his comments in Illinois Nov. 16 announcing the land proposal.

NGA is accepting public comments on the new site through Nov. 23 at The agency's preference is scheduled to be posted in the federal register in spring 2016.

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