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Salt Lake City-based Big-D Construction is part of a consortium that has been awarded a $1.2 billion contract to build a data center for U.S. intelligence agencies at Camp Williams.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late Friday that it had selected the joint venture of Balfour Beatty/DPR/Big-D to build the 1.5 million-square-foot facility for the National Security Agency.

Big D's team was one of five finalists for the coveted contract. Two of the other four bidders also involved Salt Lake City companies. Jacobsen Construction had teamed up with Turner Construction of New York City and Kiewit Building Group of Omaha. Okland Construction had formed a partnership with New Jersey-based Skanska USA.

The timing was great for a Utah company to have a prominent role in a major construction project sure to include thousands of local subcontractors among the predicted work force of 7,000 to 10,000, said Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

"City Creek [Centre] construction is winding down in downtown Salt Lake City and this is winding up," he said. "With all of the road projects out there, this type of project is critical for what we're trying to do. They all add to the vitality of the state."

An Army Corps of Engineers news release offered no explanations for the selection.

Construction of the data center is expected to be completed by June 2012. It will include 100,000 square feet of computer space, where the country's intelligence agencies will collect data to be used by the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to protect national security networks and issue warnings about cyber-security threats. That core will be surrounded by more than 900,000 square feet of technical support and administrative space, Army Corps spokeswoman Katisha Draughn said in the release. In addition, support facilities include an electrical substation, a vehicle inspection building and visitor control center, fuel and water storage structures and a chiller plant.

The whole facility will occupy 200 acres of Camp Williams, which is along the Salt Lake County-Utah County line west of Interstate 15.

Big-D, whose executives could not be reached Saturday for comment, has been part of Utah's construction industry for 42 years. Lead partner Balfour Beatty is based in Dallas. It has 2,000 employees in the United States, 50,000 worldwide, and earlier this week received an Army Corps of Engineers contract to provide design-build services for a $503 million hospital replacement project at Fort Hood, Texas.

The other partner is DPR Construction Inc. of Redwood City, Calif. It is a privately held, employee-owned company and reports more than $1 billion in annual revenues.

For Big-D to become a partner with large national construction firms like that will yield dividends for the company – and the state – for years to come, Eccles predicted.

"This will elevate Big-D's game, and it will also extend to the subcontractors," he said. "Besides creating jobs in the here and now, what they learn doing this job will raise everybody's games. It will open up opportunities when other projects start up, even in other states."

One of the operations in Eccles' department, the Procurement Training Assistance Center, helped the Army Corps of Engineers organize five meetings between contractors and subcontractors during the bid process. Eccles expects another outreach meeting with the winning contractors.

"Now we go from what if to the real thing," he said. "We'll help companies small and large navigate the government contract process."