As metro-east boosters, we’d love to see the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and its 3,000 jobs relocate to St. Clair County. But it doesn’t require a parochial view to realize that this site would be the ideal location.
The site is 182 open acres, and it is the only site of the four finalists that is owned by a public entity - St. Clair County. That would make acquisition of the land and construction a much simpler process than at the other three proposed sites in either St. Louis city or county. The Illinois site is right next to Scott Air Force Base, which routinely has projects that involve NGA West.
If NGA West wanted, it would be easy enough to extend the borders of Scott to include it in that secure, controlled environment. A new Interstate 64 interchange already in the works at Rieder Road would allow NGA West workers simple access to their desks. That interchange was planned with an eye toward private development that may never happen; this would be an even better use.
The site is close enough to the current offices near downtown St. Louis that most workers wouldn’t have to move. Those who commute from Missouri would be traveling in the opposite direction of most rush-hour traffic. And workers would get a raise of sorts because they would no longer have to pay St. Louis city earnings tax.
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Missouri’s political leaders aren’t going to want those 3,000 jobs moving out of their state, so this could devolve into a political fight before a final decision in March 2016. If politics gets involved, who knows what site gets picked. But if the selection is based on merit, St. Clair County is the obvious choice.