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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2005

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH VOWS TO CONTINUE COORDINATED CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL

MOLINE - Arriving in the region just a short time after the U.S. Department of Defense released its list of military installations recommended for closure or realignment, Gov. Rod Blagojevich gathered with local leaders to deliver the news that he will do everything humanly possible to ensure that the Rock Island Arsenal continues playing its critical role in defending our country. Gov. Blagojevich also thanked the military and civilian workers at the Arsenal for their service and dedication and reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to saving the facility and securing additional missions. The Governor has been leading a coordinated effort for more than two years with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, other elected officials and local leaders to prevent the Rock Island Arsenal and Illinois’ other bases from ending up on the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list that will be announced in September. The Rock Island Arsenal contributes more than $1.1 billion to the state’s economy each year and supports nearly 20,000 jobs.

"The Rock Island Arsenal is helping our soldiers fight for our country, which is why we have fought so long and hard to save this tremendously valuable military institution. We have taken that fight to the Pentagon and presented our comprehensive analysis as to why the Arsenal holds such extensive military value. But the battle isn't over yet because we think there is even more that the Arsenal, and the thousands and thousands of hardworking men and women who come to work there every day, can do to keep America and our troops safe. We won't stop fighting until this mission is accomplished," Gov. Blagojevich said.

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Lane Evans (D-IL), along with other state and local officials, joined Gov. Blagojevich at the announcement.

Since the earliest days of his administration, Gov. Blagojevich has relentlessly advocated for the Arsenal’s retention and expansion. Those efforts include:

· To help ensure the state made the strongest case possible from the outset to save the Arsenal, Gov. Blagojevich hired a military affairs specialist to help present the Arsenal’s compelling case to Department of the Defense.

· On February 14, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich sent Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin to Washington, DC for an important meeting with Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Phil Grone, the Pentagon’s point person on base closings. As part of a comprehensive partnership, Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert, Rock Island County Board Chairman James Bohnsack, and Quad Cities Development Group President Thom Hart also were invited on the trip by the Governor and were in attendance.

· On April 11, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich provided $200,000 to the Rock Island Arsenal Development Group to market the Arsenal as a viable business site and attract new tenants to its vacant industrial space, bringing new jobs to the community and major economic investment to the region. The grant funding, which leveraged an additional $200,000 in funding from the state of Iowa, comes as part of the Governor’s ongoing commitment to invest in development at the Arsenal so that it can act as a more dynamic engine of economic growth for the area.

· On April 6, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich signed Executive Order No. 2005-4 directing all State land-use planning agencies to coordinate with Illinois military installations in order to maintain and improve the bases’ immense military value. The order ensures that when the Department of Defense comes to Illinois seeking to expand, the state stands ready and willing to meet its needs.

Gov. Blagojevich is continuing the strong partnerships that have existed between the State of Illinois, the Congressional Delegation and the local community to preserve and strengthen the Rock Island Arsenal and will keep working to let the Commission know that Illinois will assist in any way possible to bring new missions to the base.

Rock Island Arsenal is a center for logistics and sustainment excellence for the Department of Defense (DOD). It is the home to four major U.S. Army headquarters organizations that have regional and global responsibilities - ranging from Army munitions management to regional installation management. The Arsenal also houses more than 50 other DOD organizations and provides infrastructure support to all the organizations on the island.

The Army's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center - Rock Island has the technical expertise and equipment to provide full-service design and prototyping, manufacturing, and testing/simulation for a wide variety of products from rapid response to warfighter requirements for all of the Armed Services. These state-of-the-art facilities house DOD's only vertically integrated metal manufacturing complex. The Arsenal is one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturing facilities. Products include gun mounts and recoil mechanisms for artillery, spare parts, and tools, sets, kits and outfits that support military equipment in the field. This manufacturing mission has been called on to support short-notice, critical items for soldiers in the field, including armored door kits for Humvees, weapons pedestals and electronic night sights for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The installation has a state of the art fiber-optic network that has the capacity to double the

number of users and the ability to handle twice its current amount of traffic. Through new business avenues,

the Arsenal is also partnering with some non-military entities to assist and advance manufacturing technologies in the private sector.

The Commission will publicly release its BRAC report by September 8th and will send it to President Bush. The President has until September 23rd to approve or disapprove the list. The BRAC list must then be sent to Congress by November 7th, who must also approve or disapprove the list.

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GOV. BLAGOJEVICH’S EFFORTS TO SAVE

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL

The Rock Island Arsenal plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and security of our country, while it also makes enormous contributions to the Illinois economy. With a keen awareness of the Arsenal’s tremendous collective value, Gov. Blagojevich launched a strategic plan to convince top decision makers in Washington that the Arsenal should continue serving our country with distinction. For nearly two and a half years, the Governor has led a coordinated effort with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, other elected officials and local leaders to make the most compelling case possible for why the Rock Island Arsenal and Illinois’ other military installations should not only stay off the BRAC closure list, but be asked to take on additional missions. Highlights of that effort include:

· To help ensure the state made the strongest case possible from the outset to save the Rock Island Arsenal, Gov. Blagojevich hired a military affairs specialist to help present the Arsenal’s compelling case to the Department of Defense.

· On February 14, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich sent Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin to Washington, DC for an important meeting with Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Phil Grone, the Pentagon’s point person on base closings. As part of a comprehensive partnership, Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert, Rock Island County Board Chairman James Bohnsack, and Quad Cities Development Group President Thom Hart also were invited on the trip by the Governor and were in attendance.

· On April 11, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich provided $200,000 to the Rock Island Arsenal Development Group to market the Arsenal as a viable business site and attract new tenants to its vacant industrial space, bringing new jobs to the community and major economic investment to the region. The grant funding, which leveraged an additional $200,000 in funding from the state of Iowa, comes as part of the Governor’s ongoing commitment to invest in development at the Arsenal so that it can act as a more dynamic engine of economic growth for the area.

· On April 6, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich signed Executive Order No. 2005-4 directing all State land-use planning agencies to coordinate with Illinois military installations in order to maintain and improve the bases’ immense military value. The order ensures that when the Department of Defense comes to Illinois seeking to expand, the state stands ready and willing to meet its needs.

 

· Gov. Blagojevich has led Illinois’ efforts to ensure the men and women at Rock Island Arsenal enjoy the highest quality of life. These efforts include:

Ø Signing legislation offering in-state tuition benefits to all military members stationed within the state;

Ø Signing legislation increasing the death benefits for soldiers from Illinois killed in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Ø Signing legislation to protect business owners called up for guard duty;

Ø Extending POW/MIA scholarship benefits to the dependents of Guard members;

Ø Offering the National Guard Grant program that provides Guard members with full tuition and fee reimbursement for four years at all State institutions of higher education.

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