MASCOUTAH, Ill. (KMOX) – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was in the Metro East Friday to join the region’s Congressional delegation in a meeting about the future location of the NGA.
“We believe we are making a compelling case to the federal government for locating their new expanded facility for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency right here to St. Clair County, Illinois,” Rauner said after a meeting with NGA director Robert Cardillo.
Rauner spoke at Mid-America Airport in Mascoutah along with U.S. Senators Mark Kirk and Richard Durbin, as well as Congressmen Mike Bost and John Shimkus.
To help sweeten the pot as decision time nears, the governor announced that “despite no (state) budget”, Illinois would be contributing $115 million to build out the infrastructure around the facility.
He said that is in addition to $54 million already being spent to build new roads to connect the NGA with Scott Air Force Base.
“We’re also going to study bringing the MetroLink train all the way right to this facility,” Rauner says. “We’re going to have a five million dollar engineering study underway to do that. In the meantime we’re going to arrange bus service for the employees of the NGA from the current end at Shiloh and bring them here to this facility.”
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said the group’s presentation to NGA Director Robert Cardillo was “all positive.”
“There was no compare and contract going on here,” he pointed out. “He (Castillo) made it clear at the beginning of the meeting he wanted to hear us make our best case, and I think we made a powerful case today.”
Durbin says the offer of 180-plus acres of land adjacent to the Scott Air Force Base at “zero cost” was a strong element in St. Clair County’s favor.
“With the potential of expanding to 200 more acres if necessary,” Durbin says. “This is good news for taxpayers across America, that this kind of prime real estate right next to Scott Air Force Base would be available for this new NGA facility.”
The Illinois contingent listed several other factors that they believe gives them an advantage:
* Over 7,500 military service members and more than 5,000 civilians currently work at Scott AFB. The approximately 3,000 additional NGA West employees will represent a roughly 25-percent increase in the total location workforce that will be accommodated by current infrastructure and planned improvements.
* New Interstate 64 Exit 21 at Rieder Road and associated access road improvements will provide greatly increased vehicle access to Scott-NGA security gates.
* Scott’s new and modern Military family Housing may be available for rest to certain NGA personnel, depending upon vacancy rate.
* The Scott Air Force Base site is currently owned by a single land owner (St. Clair County) and is available to NGA immediately.
* The Scott AFB site requires zero demolition above or below ground.
“When you realize that our local community, how they would come together and dropping all other problems all other issues, give the best possible site for the NGA to do its mission and do it correctly and do it safety, and allow it the opportunity to grow in the future,” Congressman Mike Bost says. “I believe when the decision is made this will be the best location.”
That decision is expected sometime in May, having just recently been pushed back by about a month.
As KMOX News also reported, NGA Director Robert Cardillo also met Friday morning with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. The mayor’s office says Slay will hold a news conference Monday morning with Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, Congressman Lacy Clay and others to make a “major announcement” regarding the city’s effort to retain the NGA facility.
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