Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was here a week ago to kick off the Scott Air Force Base centennial celebration and declared 2017 the Year of Scott Air Force Base. He said he’d love to see it expand.
The choir agrees, Rev. Rauner.
There are 12,400 civilian and military jobs tied directly to the base. It contributes $3.5 billion annually to the region’s economy.
As the quest for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency showed, Scott is a logical place to put defense agencies or contractors because of the security of a military base, local government more than willing to offer help, a civilian airport, interstate access, a light rail transit system and lots of open land for new missions and as a buffer zone for security. It is strategically located in the middle of the nation. It has a highly educated workforce with a high percentage of military veterans available, plus many higher education opportunities within a 30-minute drive.
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It still could be a perfect place for the NGA, if the new commander-in-chief and the Republican majorities remain in the mood to undo Obama’s legacy. Free open land yards from the biggest consumer of the NGA’s intelligence, or the Obama choice of an urban wasteland hemmed in by little old ladies and some of the nation’s most crime-plagued streets?
Quality of life makes Scott a favored place to be deployed. Col. Laura Lenderman, commander of the base by virtue of being in charge of the 375th Air Mobility Wing, lived at Scott as a child and is a product of local schools. The Pentagon is filled with former officers whose children were raised at Scott.
Available housing, quality schools and a welcoming atmosphere come from the efforts of many community members. They are assets that are at least as important as the commands currently calling Scott home.
The governor and the Illinois congressional delegation are well aware of Scott’s importance to the local economy, but more importantly to the nation’s defense. Still, it doesn’t hurt to remind them when we encounter them.
It doesn’t hurt to remember all the small things that will help Scott grow, whether there’s a century to mark with the Thunderbirds or just another day in January to weather.