Each year, the importance of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)’s capabilities grows. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) impact our cars, ships, and planes, but most importantly, it supports our country’s defense mission in locating terrorists, guiding our troops, and many more defense tasks. Our GIS capabilities change and increase with each year. Facilities and manpower must keep up with the demands.

A new NGA facility in St. Louis isn’t slated to open until 2024, but the work is well underway. So far, 99 acres have been cleared in St. Louis, and the city is already preparing to meet the new workforce requirements the agency will bring. The city is working to advance their their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings to K-12 students. When the jobs open, the city wants to be ready to offer its own talent to fill the slots.

NGA: 7 Decades in St. Louis

Robert Cardillo, director of the NGA notes, “This agency is proud to have been part of St. Louis for seven decades. That commitment means we won’t be just another walled-off, federal building — we will be out engaging with communities, interacting with tech entrepreneurs, exchanging knowledge and ideas with innovators, and serving as a magnet to attract the region’s best talent.

The Gateway Arch is visible from our future north St. Louis campus, too. It will continue to project that bold spirit of Lewis and Clark. Just as their journey started from here to map our nation’s future, NGA is charting the future of our agency here — and the region and its brightest students are essential.”

Actual construction of the new headquarters is slated to commence Spring 2019, but the work is obviously well underway to get the grounds ready and debris hauled away. The complex has a $1.75 billion price tag and is being developed under the partnership efforts of St. Louis Development Corporation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Air Force, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The end result will boast of an approximately 712,000 square foot office building, parking garages, visitor center, inspection facility and access control points.

Of course, St. Louis has a vested interest in raising up the next generation of GIS technicians, engineers, analysts, etc. But those with a current clearance and GIS background should keep their eye out for open positions in Springfield, VA or St. Louis, MO. New facilities often require employees to move from one current facility to the new one in order to help with the startup and continuity of operations, which could provide an opening at the old office.

If a move makes sense for your career, the start of a new agency may provide a great opportunity. The expanding presence of NGA in St. Louis is a reminder that while Washington, D.C. is still king for security clearance careers, positions are available across the country. And when the government is looking to expand, its new horizons just might be yours.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.