US spy agency selects St. Louis location over Illinois

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A U.S. spy agency seeking a new $1.6 billion home for its western regional headquarters expects to remain in St. Louis rather than move to the city’s Illinois suburbs.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced Thursday the preferred location for the project is a blighted north St. Louis area that city leaders hope will see an economic turnaround.

That’s a setback to efforts by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and others to lure the complex to near Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County.

Agency director Robert Cardillo says an urban location is preferable to “attract, recruit and retain” the more than 3,000 high-tech workers.

Thursday’s announcement was cheered by Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon, both Democrats, as a bipartisan victory for St. Louis economic development.