By ALAN J. DUNSTAN
When the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) announced it was looking for sites in the greater St. Louis area to construct a new, advanced technology facility, Chairman Mark Kern and members of the St. Clair County Board stepped up and submitted an excellent proposal for a 182-acre site adjacent to Scott Air Force Base near Belleville.
The St. Clair County site would be made available to the NGA at no cost, offers opportunities for expansion, is not contaminated, and is conveniently located near major highways and mass transit. The NGA has a vital role in our country’s security and, as such, needs to be located in an easily secured area. In terms of security, I can think of no better location than next to an Air Force base that serves as home to more than 13,000 military personnel, including 6,000 active duty service men and women, and is the location of two cyber security squadrons.
My support for the St. Clair County site for the new NGA facility is admittedly biased. A new, healthy, sustainable and diverse economy is being created in Madison County and in Southwestern Illinois, providing economic opportunity for all in the region. And while a NGA facility would primarily benefit St. Clair County, it would also benefit Madison County. Most importantly, St. Clair County offers the right location that would be good for our country.
In managing Madison County government, my actions are based on one objective – what is best for our county’s residents. Regrettably, decisions of this nature are often influenced by other factors. I would hope the officials charged with selection of the new Midwestern home for the NGA would follow the proven standard of doing what is best for our country.
Madison County is proud to support Chairman Kern, the St. Clair County Board and community leaders in their respective efforts to ensure the new NGA facility is constructed where it should be, adjacent to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County.
Alan Dunstan is chairman of the Madison County Board. Since the writing of this letter, an additional 200 acres is being offered by St. Clair County for the NGA site.