U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the finalists of 136 Expressions of Interest received from parties in 35 states vying to become the new homes of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“This short list of locations took into consideration critical factors required to uphold the important missions of ERS and NIFA. We also considered factors important to our employees, such as quality of life,” Secretary Perdue said. “Relocation will help ensure USDA is the most effective, most efficient, and most customer-focused agency in the federal government, allowing us to be closer to our stakeholders and move our resources closer to our customers. Our commitment to the public and our employees is to continue to be transparent as we proceed with our analysis.”
As part of the rigorous 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.
- Costs (Capital and Operating): 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 alphabetical order, these are the top three Expressions of Interest under consideration:
While not in the top three, these Expressions of Interest in alphabetical order remain under consideration as alternative locations should the top three locations not suit USDA’s needs: