City hopes to fill empty downtown Birmingham building with two federal agencies

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The City of Birmingham, Ala. is looking to fill an empty downtown building with two federal agencies.

The former Liberty National Building is one of the largest office spaces in the Magic City and has sat vacant since 2010. The city is now hoping to fill the building with the national headquarters of two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies: the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), whose purpose is to to consolidate all federally funded agricultural research, and the Economic Research Service (ERS), which provides key indicators, outlook analysis, and a wealth of data on the U.S. food and agricultural system.

In August, the Trump Administration announced plans to move the two government agencies out of Washington, D.C. where their headquarters are located currently.

“The need for a proposed NIFA facility would be approximately 90,000 square feet to house approximately 360 employees. The need for a proposed ERS facility would be up to 70,000 square feet to house up to 260 employees,” read a Federal Register notice requesting “expressions of interest” for the relocation of ERS and NIFA.

The notice notes that both the ERS and the NIFA are now housed in space rented from the General Services Administration, and that the lease for the NFIA offices is expiring.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal, the City of Birmingham is preparing a bid for the two agencies. Incentives to relocate to Birmingham will be included in the bid, but have yet to be disclosed.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release the USDA would pay relocation expenses, as the agencies have had a hard time recruiting staff, especially graduates of land-grant colleges. But part of the appeal of relocating to Alabama could be that the state has three land-grant universities: Alabama A&M, Tuskegee, and Auburn University.

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