Metro-East News

NGA director set to visit MidAmerica to discuss relocation plans with Kirk, Durbin, Rauner

Will the NGA come to an area of St. Clair County near Scott Air Force Base?
Will the NGA come to an area of St. Clair County near Scott Air Force Base?

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is scheduled to host a briefing Friday afternoon at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah with fellow U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Gov. Bruce Rauner concerning plans to bring the $1.6 billion headquarters for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to St. Clair County.

The featured guest of honor: Robert Cardillo, the director of NGA and the man who, in less than month, is set to decide the fate of the new NGA headquarters: a patch of pasture and cornfields in St. Clair County, adjacent to Scott Air Force Base, or a site in North St. Louis, on the footprint of the old Pruitt-Igoe housing complex.

Friday’s briefing is set to begin at 2 p.m., according to a Kirk spokesman.

“Tomorrow I will host a briefing for senior NGA leadership on the security benefits of the St Clair County site and recent developments on the location decision,” Kirk said in a statement released Thursday morning.

Cardillo is making the trip to MidAmerica to meet with Illinois’ senators and Rauner at the invitation of Rauner, according to Sam Wilson, an NGA spokesman.

“So he’s making the trip to meet with them,” Wilson said.

Kirk serves as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

The NGA is a secretive spy agency attached to the U.S. Defense Department that uses satellite imagery to make maps and other data tools for America’s military and intelligence organizations, as well as for civilian federal agencies.

If it comes to St. Clair County, the NGA project will be one of the biggest projects in metro-east history. Construction of the 800,000-square-foot building will create 15,000 temporary construction jobs in addition to 3,100 permanent jobs.

Experts predict NGA West could be the first of other intelligence and defense agencies drawn to St. Clair County, bringing potentially thousands more jobs to the region in the years ahead.

Construction on NGA West is set to begin in early 2017, with the project completed by 2021.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000