- Associated Press - Friday, September 19, 2014

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh will visit the Rock Island Arsenal next month for a tour that a pair of Illinois lawmakers will use to highlight why they think the historic facility is deserving of continued investment.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos invited the secretary to visit the Mississippi River island between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, on Oct. 7.

“The Rock Island Arsenal is a crucial asset for both our national security and the economy of the Quad Cities region,” said Durbin, chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees discretionary military spending.

Durbin’s appropriations bill for the 2015 fiscal year includes $225 million to help Rock Island and other arsenals compete for partnerships with private sector businesses. That is meant to help them sustain capacity and technical competence in peacetime while remaining ready to respond to emerging conflicts.

The Rock Island arsenal was established in 1862 and has an important place in American military history.

It’s one of the largest employers in the region, with more than 7,500 workers, and it contributes $1 billion to the local economy, according to the Army.

The arsenal has made artillery pieces including Howitzers, as well as small arms, grenade launchers and weapon simulators.

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