Marine Corps agrees to keep information technology center in KC

The Marine Corps is staying in Kansas City, preserving more than 400 high-paying civilian jobs for at least the next 30 years.

Kansas City beat out New Orleans for the long-term offices of the Marine Corps information technology center. The Marines’ decision extends its commitment to Kansas City well beyond its current lease that expires in 2017.

The Corps’ choice was announced Wednesday by Sen. Claire McCaskill. She said the decision could lead to hundreds of additional jobs at the facility at 2306 E. Bannister Road next to the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City. There were no specifics, however, regarding potential new jobs in her statement.

“I will continue to be a vocal advocate for a strong Marine Corps presence in Kansas City and for maintaining and growing the information technology center in Kansas City,” McCaskill said, “because it clearly is the most fiscally responsible approach and is the right solution for the Marine Corps and Kansas City.”

Rex Runyon, a Marine Corps spokesman in Washington, said McCaskill’s speculation that several hundred more jobs eventually could be added in Kansas City was reasonable.

“I can’t say anything definite, but I’d think that would be a good assumption,” Runyon said. “I don’t think the senator’s office is off base at all on that.”

The 250,000-square-foot center on Bannister Road now houses hundreds of software developers and information technology professionals who support Marine Corps computer functions worldwide. The total workforce is about 450 people, with 35 of them being uniformed Marines, the rest civilians.

The Marines had recently signed a five-year extension to its current lease, keeping it as a tenant through 2017. The Corps has now agreed to negotiate and sign a longer commitment.

“They’re a great tenant and it’s a great win for Kansas City,” said Jason Klumb, Heartland regional administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration that owns the building.

Klumb credited local GSA employees for securing the Marines’ extended commitment and said the long lease ensures the building will be maintained and secure.

“GSA employees have worked diligently to ensure the Marine Corps IT data center remains a valuable asset to the Corps,” Klumb said. “With the announcement today, the GSA will now begin working with the Marine Corps on their long-term plan for the facility.”

New Orleans had made an aggressive bid to land the Marine Corps center for its Federal City redevelopment. The Marines had dedicated a Marine Forces Reserve headquarters there in 2011.

Kansas City’s chances of gaining the long-term commitment, however, increased with the September occupancy agreement that runs through 2017. McCaskill, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she lobbied the Marine Corps commandant to keep the facility in Kansas City.

“After studying the move, the government determined what we knew all along — that Kansas City has exactly the right mixture of expertise and personnel to host this center for the long haul,” McCaskill said.

Runyon said one of the major reasons the Marines decided to keep their IT facility in Kansas City was to avoid disrupting its staff.

“The existing workforce is considered a valuable resource and we didn’t want to lose that or have it compromised by a relocation,” he said.

Runyon added that it also would have cost an additional $100 million to relocate the facility to another city.

The Marines’ center occupies office space that previously housed the Internal Revenue Service. The rest of the building is vacant warehouse space once used by the National Archives and Records Administration, which relocated to near Union Station.

“This decision anchors that building and allows us to fill the rest of it,” Klumb said.

The adjoining Bannister Federal Complex, a former World War II defense plant, houses Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies. Honeywell is relocating that operation to a new complex at Missouri 150 and Botts Road.