Ground was broken this past week for the new $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) facility in St. Louis that employs 3,000 people with better than average pay.

It has been almost four years since the federal government selected the 97-acre site that employs workers who map and analyze imagery for the military and intelligence communities. The agency has been located in St. Louis but needed to upgrade its facility. It has been located in south St. Louis.

Dozens of properties had to be bought and cleared to make way for the new campus at the corner of Jefferson and Cass avenues in the city’s central corridor.

The agency employs people who live in Franklin County. If the federal government had decided to move it out of the city of St. Louis to another state, it would have been a serious blow to the economy.

Sen. Roy Blunt took part in the groundbreaking ceremonies. He is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence. Sen. Blunt said the groundbreaking ceremonies “marked another milestone in the yearslong effort to keep the agency, as well as the thousands of jobs it supports . . . For more than 70 years, the men and women at the NGA in St. Louis have played an important role in keeping America safe . . . I’ll keep working to ensure we have the resources needed to get this facility built as soon as possible.”

The 2018 government funding bill provided $200 million for the project. The land transfer was completed in December 2018.

Sen. Blunt had a key role in keeping the project in St. Louis and in providing funding.

Projects of this size take considerable time in gaining all of the approvals needed. From all indications, it has been well worth the wait.