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Members of Iowa/Illinois delegation address Army secretary on closure of Rock Island Arsenal

A bipartisan federal delegation comprised of both Iowa and Illinois lawmakers wants answers on the rumored relocation of a Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center away from the Rock Island Arsenal as a budget-cutting measure.

U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joined with U.S. Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Bob Schilling (R-Ill.) as authors of a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John M. McHugh.

We hope to meet with you as soon as practicable to discuss the importance of Rock Island’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center to the Quad Cities region.

It is our understanding that the Army Material Command (AMC) has formed an internal task force charged with cutting $3 billion from the overall AMC budget. These recommendations are due in July as part of an Army-wide effort to find savings in a time of tight budgets. We understand that closing Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC) is a potential approach being considered by the task force.

As you know JMTC is a state of the art manufacturing facility that can rapidly respond to warfighter needs. It has produced armor that protected our troops overseas and has produced almost every howitzer in the Army inventory. JMTC employs more than 1,700 jobs and is an anchor in the local and regional economy.

Given the urgency of this matter, we request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss these matters as they may impact Rock Island.

A similar letter was sent to Commanding General Ann E. Dunwoody of the AMC:

Earlier this month, we requested a meeting with you through the Army Liaison’s Office but were told you would not be available until July at the earliest. However, recent events highlight the need for this meeting to take place as soon as possible. …

The delegation noted that they would be ready as early as Friday to conduct the meeting.

Jimmy Morgan of the Rock Island Arsenal Development Group told KWQC-TV in the Quad Cities that rumors of the possible closure on budget grounds don’t seem legitimate because funding is brought in by contracts. He estimates more than 8,500 people work on the Mississippi River island and that the presence brings more than $1 billion to the local economy each year.

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