I have been a business owner in Southern Illinois for many years and am excited about the possibility of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building a new facility near the Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County. This move would have a positive economic impact in our regional communities bringing more people, money and opportunities to businesses and communities like mine.
I’ve read that construction of the 800,000-square-foot NGA West building would create as many as 15,000 temporary construction jobs, which would be a boost to this area. NGA employs more than 3,000 employees, and that number could grow to 4,500 or more. The economic impact of NGA’s operations and its thousands of information technology and high-tech employees would undoubtedly bring new streams of revenue, taxes and profits to St. Clair County and the Southern Illinois region overall.
According to a recent St. Louis Business Journal editorial about the NGA West relocation, the 182 acres in St. Clair County are more valuable to the St. Louis regional economy than a similar footprint in North St. Louis city. Additionally, St. Clair County has offered an additional 200-plus acres adjacent to this site to accommodate the NGA 99-year plan for future expansion.
Scott Air Force Base is a global mobility and transportation hub for the Department of Defense. With close proximity to the base, communities in our area are greatly impacted by its presence. The base’s economic impact exceeds $3 billion, and it provides roughly 6,800 indirect jobs and brings families and retired military to live, work and play in the surrounding communities. Plus, the NGA works closely with the military and customers located at Scott AFB and within surrounding communities. Being located near the base would create a new level of synergy and service for the military and businesses alike. The new NGA West site located in St. Clair County makes perfect business sense. Especially since St. Clair County has agreed to donate the land for the project, there’s room for expansion, the area has a skilled workforce and the area’s infrastructure offers logistical and security advantages.
I enthusiastically and completely support the NGA West’s move to the Scott AFB site located in St. Clair County, and would be proud to have the agency as a business member in my community.
Bruce B. Holland is the chief executive officer of Holland Construction Services Inc. in Swansea.