St. Clair County in southwestern Illinois is doubling its offer of land in its bid to attract the new western headquarters the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is planning to build to replace its existing facility in south St. Louis.
County officials on Monday said they would provide an additional 200 acres to the agency for future expansion, on top of the original 182-acre site they proposed as part of a regional competition to land the $1.6 billion headquarters. The expansion site is next to the original parcel, which lies just north of the Scott Air Force Base runway.
NGA employs about 3,000 people and currently is located at the former St. Louis Arsenal. The Scott AFB site and a 100-acre tract in north St. Louis appear to be the top contenders out of a total of four to land the new headquarters, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
County officials say moving the NGA headquarters to Scott AFB will create synergies with two tenants on the base, the Defense Information Systems Agency and U.S. Transportation Command. The county also is pointing to the newly created Midwest Cyber Center of Excellence — a nonprofit organization formed to address unprecedented needs in the cybersecurity labor market in the region — as another advantage to the Scott AFB site.
An Army Corps of Engineers study of prospective sites found that the Illinois site would be the easiest to develop, but noted that keeping the agency in St. Louis would provide a major economic benefit to a distressed area, spare the city from losing more than $2 million in earnings tax and significantly lengthen commutes for many agency workers, according to the story.
“It was biased in terms of overstating the benefits for St. Louis,” said St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern, adding that about 30 percent of the agency’s employees already live east of the Mississippi River in Illinois.