NGA again passes cornfields of Illinois to spend big in Missouri

You’ve got to hand it to the St. Louis and Missouri leaders: Not only did they steal away with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new western headquarters, now they’ve pulled in a $12 million, five-year contract to train NGA staffers.

To the victors go the spoils.

Of course, if you remember the NGA’s hastily rewritten rationalization for the decision to use a defense agency as an urban renewal tool — thank you again, Mr. Lame Duck Commander-In-Chief — you will remember that part about having trouble finding qualified workers in Illinois. The he-bobs in the cornfields couldn’t possibly handle the jobs making spy maps.

This $12-million decision was likely driven by the facts about as much as the decision to put a headquarters in the middle of an urban wasteland instead of at Scott Air Force Base, a secured site mere yards from the biggest users of the data products NGA produces.

Here are some facts:

The University of Missouri’s Columbia campus is ranked 87th in the nation for engineering. The University of Illinois is ranked fifth.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville is this region’s only university offering geographic information systems degrees. U of I is in the top 10 percent nationally. Mizzou is well below colleges helping the Ozark hillbillies and Appalachian mountain folk get thar larnin’ about mappin’.

Scott Air Force Base has a steady stream of cyber warriors and computer specialists from which an employer could recruit, all with veteran hiring preferences and all with advanced training that would dovetail with education opportunities in Illinois.

Hats off to Missouri’s politicians, who have again captured your tax dollars by tying up and gagging reason.