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  • Writer's pictureAIM Team

Final NGA decision coming next week as bi-state fight continues

Associated Industries of Missouri supports the location of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at the site chosen in north St. Louis.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is set to finalize next week its decision over where it will build its $1.75 billion western campus while Illinois and Missouri officials continue to battle for it.

The agency, which handles mapping and satellite support for the Defense Department, preliminarily chose a site in north St. Louis as its preferred location. After two months and an extended public comment period, NGA will announce a final decision on June 3.

Illinois officials, many of whom are facing re-election battles this fall, have continued to fight to lure the facility, which is currently south of downtown St. Louis, across the river to land near Scott Air Force Base. NGA Director Robert Cardillo announced St. Louis as his preferred location in late March. Illinois officials swiftly mounted a spirited attack against the process.

The project promises to be the single largest federal expenditure in the city’s history.

Cardillo cited St. Louis as the most attractive site to recruit younger workers to the agency, which is working on transforming its image as a high-tech operation. NGA employs about 3,000 workers in St. Louis and could add additional officers after the move, expected in 2022 or 2023.

So far, Cardillo has appeared unfazed by Illinois’ vigorous pushback and firmly in support of St. Louis. Earlier this month, when Cardillo announced an NGA outpost in Silicon Valley, he praised St. Louis’ tech community.

“We’re jumping in with both feet into the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis — a growing new hub of tech development,” Cardillo said. “We’ll go wherever necessary to create the service the world demands and our customers deserve.”

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, held a forum with Metro East residents where he slammed the decision. Bost, along with other Illinois leaders, has argued that the environmental assessment report backing the St. Louis site is flawed and contains several errors, some of which confused St. Clair County, Ill., with St. Clair counties in other states. He also said the facility would be safest near a major defense installation such as Scott Air Force Base.

Other local officials at Bost’s forum on Friday at the Katy Cavins Community Center in O’Fallon grabbed the security issue, openly discussing St. Louis’ crime and racial turmoil.

Cardillo, in a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said the agency would mitigate security concerns at the north St. Louis site “through security engineering and design features for the facility and campus, NGA police force routine patrols, perimeter cameras, and close coordination with the St. Louis police force.”

Mayor Francis Slay said Friday that the city was still pressing to keep the facility.

“We have not taken this for granted,” Slay said.



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