UPDATE: February 27, 2019: The $333 billion fiscal year 2019 spending bill that nixed the possibility of another federal shutdown earlier this month also had a big gift for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State of Alabama — $385 million that the agency can use toward construction of its planned expansion at the Redstone Arsenal campus in Huntsville.
The allocation, according to AL.com, was made to support the previously announced transfer of 1,350 FBI employees to the Redstone campus.
Other states were not so lucky when it comes to the bill's appropriations. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) discretionary grant program was slashed by $600 million. The competition was fierce for the $1.5 billion that the agency disbursed in 2018, and the cut means that fewer state and local agencies will be able to move forward with their critical transportation projects.
The grants typically range from $5 million to $25 million, with smaller rural areas eligible for grants as low as $1 million.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation could invest as much as $1 billion in the Huntsville, Alabama, area, according to Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama at a Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Monday, reported AL.com.
- The Redstone Arsenal, a U.S. Army base, is already home to the FBI's Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center and Hazardous Devices School. The agency first announced in November it was expanding its presence at the Arsenal with the construction of a large-scale operations support building, which should be complete in 2021. Ultimately, the FBI expects to eventually have as many as 5,000 employees working at its Arsenal facilities.
- Shelby told those in attendance that the Huntsville area is “on fire” in terms of development. “You’ve got the manpower here. You’ve got the brain trust, and you’ve got the security of the [Redstone] Arsenal,” Shelby told WZDX News. "I think it will be one of the biggest presences of the FBI outside of Washington.”
Alabama has seen its share of major construction projects take shape and get underway in the last few years.
In November, Toyota and Mazda broke ground on a $1.6 billion Huntsville auto manufacturing plant where they will make a new Corolla model and a crossover Mazda. This will be the fourth vehicle assembly plant in Alabama. In addition to keeping local contractors busy, the automakers donated $750,000 for local STEM programs and for a platform that will promote careers in manufacturing but reportedly received incentives worth $700 million to build the facility there.
The new plant is near an existing Toyota engine plant where the company has invested $1 billion.
Google and Facebook also have chosen the Huntsville area to build data centers. Facebook is constructing a $750 million facility in Huntsville, and Google’s $600 million center is being built in nearby Bridgeport, Alabama.
In keeping with Huntsville's moniker of "Rocket City," a nod to its rich history with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and U.S. space program, company Blue Origin broke ground on a $200 million rocket engine facility in Huntsville last month. The Jeff Bezos-owned enterprise will make the B-4 rocket engine for national security and other missions and should be up and running in 2020.
And in December, flooring manufacturer Shaw Industries Group announced that it was investing $250 million in an expansion of its existing plant in Andalusia, Alabama, near the Florida border. Construction actually began in 2017 and is expected to continue through 2020. EMJ Construction is the general contractor.