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North St. Louis NGA Site Will 'Change The Way Our Agency Does Business’

The groundbreaking on a new NGA site in north St. Louis is set for Nov. 26.
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The groundbreaking on a new NGA site in north St. Louis is set for Nov. 26.

In three weeks, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will formally break ground on Next NGA West, its long-anticipated headquarters that will be located in north St. Louis. The $1.7 billion construction project is expected to last several years, with a goal of completing much of the campus in 2023.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Next NGA West Program Director Sue Pollmann joined host Sarah Fenske to give an update on the project and to discuss the spy agency’s hopes for the St. Louis region as a geospatial industry hub.

Pollmann said after a long period of planning, design and site cleaning, construction will begin in earnest over the next few months.

“Now we’ll actually be able to get the shovels out there and the dump trucks … we’re to the point where McCarthy HITT [the contractors] are ready to start grading,” she said, “and we should really see some great activity.”

Sue Pollmann joined Tuesday's program.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Sue Pollmann joined Tuesday's program.

Still, it will be at least five years before NGA staff members begin moving to the new facility — likely in 2025.

When they do, Pollmann said, the new digs will give the agency “a lot of opportunity to change the way our agency does business.”

“We know that we need to be more open. We know we need to collaborate more — collaborate more with industry, with our academic partners — and our current campus [in Soulard] does not allow us to do that. Everything is built around a secure environment, so I can’t just invite you in for lunch on a given day — I might have to have three days’ notice to even get you in the building. And then you have to have a very specific purpose for being there.”

Along with more openness on that front, the hope is that the new facility will allow NGA to bring in young people and “have areas where we can bring in students from K-12, students from the local universities, so that we can help them learn about geospatial intelligence.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.