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By Mike Riley

As the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) continues its analysis to determine where to locate the new NGA West facility, there are compelling reasons as to why the Scott Air Force Base (AFB) site in St. Clair County should be at the top of the list. We need your help to communicate those reasons to the people making the decisions.

From now through November 23rd, NGA’s consultants working to evaluate the various sites will be taking public comment on the reasons why individual sites should be considered. Consider first the Mission Synergy that comes from the proposed site being adjacent to Scott Air Force Base (AFB), which is home to the Defense Intelligence Security Agency (DISA) and United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), both of which are already clients of the NGA. There is also the unbeatable project cost, since St. Clair County is willing to provide the entire 182-acre site at zero cost and to cover any archaeological costs that might be incurred.

We also fully understand the fundamental need to provide the NGA employees with a safe, secure, convenient, and vibrant workplace environment. With its close connection to NGA’s current military intelligence and business partners and secure state of the art fiber-optic cable connection, the site by Scott AFB is uniquely positioned. Given its 100-year track record providing a high-level, secure environment for the U.S. Air Force and other military service missions, Scott Air Force Base really is in a class by itself.

Furthermore, the NGA’s 3,000 employee strong workforce would receive a variety of benefits, from full fare reimbursement for transit riders, to being part of a community that has been nationally recognized for both its quality of life advantages, as well as the support provided to our existing military families. Rest assured that the same award-winning support would be provided to NGA and its critical military and civilian employees.

When you pair the locational advantages with the many other amenities the Scott AFB site offers, the choice is clear. Also clear is the fact that the relocation of NGA West to the site near Scott AFB would be game changing for Southwestern Illinois, bringing new investment and new jobs to our communities, creating an enhanced level of synergy and service around the base, and a positive ripple effect across our region.

It is imperative that we make our case and make it now. The public comment period is open through November 23, and you can share your support for the Scott AFB site in St. Clair County in a variety of ways. Comment online at http://nextngawest.com/site/index.php/comment; via Email to: NextNGAWest@usace.army.mil, or submit your comments via mail to: Next NGA West, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District, Attn: Amy Blair, Room 529, 601 E. 12th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106.

I urge you to take time today to weigh in on this vital issue and note your support for the Scott AFB site in St. Clair County. Your support can make a difference!

Mike Riley is president of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, a member-based, economic development corporation representing Madison and St. Clair counties.