A future BRAC could represent a threat to Scott Air Force Base, but St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern believes the installation’s supporters in Southwestern Illinois need to look at the prospect of a base closure round as an opportunity to attract new missions.
“We also have to view BRAC as a way to grow the base, and so the process is really multiple prongs and [we] must be ready for when it comes,” Kern told the Belleville News-Democrat.
St. Clair County will work closely with Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, the local economic development agency, to craft a strategy to protect Scott from downsizing while promoting efforts to grow the base, Kern said.
“We always need to be vigilant in making sure that we protect Scott Air Force Base as best we can,” he said.
For evidence that the installation is positioned to grow, Kern pointed to the Aug. 11 ribbon-cutting for the $100 million headquarters for the Global Operations Command of the Defense Information Systems Agency, the cyber-protection division charged with executing global mission support and emergency response coordination. The 164,000-square-foot facility consolidates over 950 civilian, military and contract workers to Scott. Officials already plan to expand the command’s workforce.
“It’s a new building that’s already adding jobs beyond what was anticipated at the time the building was built,” Kern said. “It’s one of the examples that shows we are a successful place to relocate agencies like that.”