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Lt. Governor Simon tours Rock Island Arsenal 

Learns of community development, Installation impact on region

ROCK ISLAND – May 17, 2011. Chair of a state committee on military base retention, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon met with base leaders at the Rock Island Arsenal today to learn about its long-term viability and economic impact on the region.  

Under state statute, Simon leads the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), which coordinates local, state and federal efforts to protect and develop the Illinois military bases.  

The IMBSEDC was established in 2005 in response to Department of Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) orders to close and realign military bases nationwide. The changes at Arsenal Island, including the relocation of a large logistics outfit to Michigan, will result in the net loss of more than 1,000 jobs by September.  

“The Rock Island Arsenal is the largest single employer in the Quad Cities, and we want to keep it that way,” Simon said. “I will work with local and federal leaders to grow partnerships that will keep the Rock Island Arsenal a cutting edge and efficient economic engine for this region.”  

Located on an island in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois, the Rock Island Arsenal is an active U.S. Army facility that is home to approximately 50 Department of Defense organizations, including the Army Sustainment Command and the Joint Munitions Command, which both have worldwide missions.  

The only U.S. Army facility that assembles tool sets, kits, and outfits that support equipment in the field, the Rock Island Arsenal currently employs an estimated 8,900 military, civilian and contract workers. The business conducted on the island also supports over 14,000 additional jobs in the surrounding communities, and its total annual economic impact on the local economy is over $1 billion.  

“I am delighted to have Lt. Governor Sheila Simon with us today to see first-hand what the Arsenal provides to the local economy and the United States military,” East Moline Mayor John Thodos said. “As we approach the next round of BRAC evaluations, it is important to take into consideration the value and impact of the Arsenal and how it serves the region and nation.”  

Among its duties, the IMBSEDC serves as a liaison between the state and community organizations that support the long-term viability of military bases; communicates with the state’s congressional delegation; and coordinates communication between the public, governmental bodies, and officials about the future of military bases in the Illinois.  

Simon’s Rock Island Arsenal briefing comes days after Simon visited the former Joliet Arsenal and ammunition plant, which has been redeveloped into several manufacturing and distribution business parks. Simon will chair her first meeting of IMBSEDC next week in Springfield.