Thousands of federal agents and law enforcement officers will make their way to Huntsville this year for training at Redstone Arsenal.
Redstone Arsenal has a mixture of strong security and unique facilities, all at a lower cost. North Alabama leaders say that's what makes it the perfect location for these agents and officers to train at. Some will be there in a matter of weeks.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation made a special announcement in Washington D.C. just days ago that caught local leaders by surprise.
"It will be law enforcement, FBI agents, local law enforcement, will come here, train, and then go back out to their community," Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said.
It's not just a few workers coming to train either. A total of 10,000 to 15,000 officers will go through Redstone Arsenal this year. That's in addition to 3,000 FBI agents who will be permanently relocating to Huntsville.
In November, the FBI announced it will build a site inside the Army post to house future employees. Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said there's now a need for something else, too.
"A mock city, kind of like what you'd have in Hollywood or something, where agents are able to come in and do training," Bowling said.
WAAY 31 is told workers will come in waves, spending a few days preparing for different situations they may ultimately face out in the field. Forensic investigations, cyber security and bomb removals are just some of the things officers will practice inside the gates of Redstone Arsenal. Battle says training in Huntsville will save taxpayers dollars.
"Cost of living, cost of payroll, cost of running buildings here is a fraction of what it costs in Washington D.C.," Battle said.
Both mayors emphasized how thousands of high-paid workers will only help the local economy. Garrett Dennis is the owner of Clean Juice, a company that has only been around for 8 months. After hearing of the added foot-traffic to the area, he thinks more people will be walking through the door.
"We're thrilled about it, especially as new businesses still looking to grow, our volume, the opportunity to serve more people in the community can only help that," Dennis.
Bowling said this could introduce more flight options, better airfare, expanded car rentals and lodging opportunities, but he also said the area needs to be better prepared.
"We know that there is not enough in this area, right now, to support all of these opportunities," Bowling said. "We're going to see new residents come into our communities."
Bowling said the first wave of law enforcement officers will start to move in around June. Right now, there are approximately 300 FBI workers on Redstone Arsenal.
WAAY 31 received the following statement on Wednesday from FBI spokesperson, Stacie Bohanan:
"As the FBI continues to realign portions of its Washington, D.C. based operational, technology, training, research and development and other support functions to new facilities at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, the number of FBI employees working at Redstone Arsenal will increase.
The FBI is continuing to build out the Redstone campus to include the Operations Support Building – a project already underway that will house approximately 1,350 employees. The increased workforce on the Arsenal will include Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts, professional staff and contractor personnel.
Additionally, as part of its FY19 funding the FBI is focused on collaborative technology-focused space and training venues which could facilitate thousands of FBI employees as well as our Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners traveling to Northern Alabama for training.
The growth of the FBI will have a positive impact on both Redstone Arsenal and Northern Alabama. In addition to bringing new government and contract job opportunities, the expansion plan will also create opportunities for local service suppliers and vendors."
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