By Sean Tubbs
Friday, November 19. 2010
Hinting at potentially more growth of the local intelligence community, the man who is overseeing the relocation of more than 800 Defense Intelligence Agency employees to Albemarle County said he expects the transition to be completed by March.
“The largest single group of DIA people outside of the Washington metropolitan area will soon be in Charlottesville,” said Phil Roberts, chief of field support for
and a 29-year agency veteran.
Roberts briefed city, county and University of Virginia officials at a meeting of the Planning and Coordination Council on Thursday.
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The move was set into motion by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure report, which called for the positions to be transferred from Bolling Air Force Base to a new facility near the U.S. Army’s National Ground Intelligence Center. The BRAC report requires the transition to be completed by September.
So far, 247 employees have made the transition, according to Roberts. About 45 percent have chosen to live in Albemarle, with Greene County and Charlottesville close behind.
Roberts said about two-thirds of the positions being relocated here will be filled by current DIA personnel. However, he said DIA was committed to giving back to the community by hiring locally, as well.
“The majority of the remaining positions will be filled and are available to be filled by current and future Charlottesville residents,” Roberts said.
When all the jobs are filled, DIA itself will be the seventh-largest employer in the region. When jobs at the adjacent National Ground Intelligence Center are factored in, the intelligence sector will be the area’s fourth-largest employer.
However, those positions won’t be filled until Congress passes an appropriations bill for the Department of Defense. The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires Dec. 3.
Roberts said the area’s quality of life makes it an attractive location for future growth, but that would ultimately be up to the area’s elected officials to decide.
“The potential to do more and sell this area as a center for good intelligence work on behalf of the nation exists,” Roberts said. “There are communities that wake up every day and think about how to expand the intelligence sector.”
Albemarle Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said he welcomed the expansion.
“When you tour NGIC and [
], and you talk to the people who work there about what they do, you come away with a feeling that there’s a patriotic duty of the community to enable your activities,” Rooker said.