USDA announces top sites for ERS, NIFA relocations
On May 3, the USDA announced the finalists to become the new homes for its Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
Athens and Griffin, Georgia’s top contenders, survived the first round of eliminations but were not among the finalists.
The finalist locations are: Indiana (multiple locations, including Purdue University); Kansas/Missouri (the Greater Kansas City Region) and North Carolina’s Research Triangle region.
Alternate locations include St. Louis, Missouri, and Madison, Wisconsin.
As part of the site selection process, USDA narrowed the Expressions of Interest list using a set of established criteria defined by USDA, NIFA, and ERS leadership.
The criteria included:
Quality of Life: Subcategory examples include diversity index, residential housing costs, access to healthcare, and home and community safety ranking.
Capital and operating costs: Subcategory examples include commercial real estate costs, CPI Index, and wage costs.
Workforce: Subcategory examples include labor force growth rate, unemployment rate, and the labor force population.
Logistics / IT Infrastructure: Subcategory examples include lodging availability, proximity to customers, and airport accessibility.
The top Expressions of Interest were reviewed in detail, and USDA selected a short list of locations offering existing buildings with sufficient space to meet ERS and NIFA requirements.
In a related development, on April 22 the House Committee on Appropriations released a draft of its agriculture and rural development funding bill for FY2020. The bill includes language that would block the relocation of ERS and NIFA away from the national capital region.