The federal government's accelerating effort to reduce its footprint comes at a time when local governments have become wary of manufacturing and other large businesses. In a globalizing world economy, corporate giants seem to have no loyalty to the communities that have hosted them, and their departure is typically associated with a depressed economy and an environmental legacy. Instead of focusing limited local resources on trying to recruit and retain large businesses, local governments increasingly are investing in schools, housing, amenities, and other sustainable local attributes. This change in approach makes it more difficult for the federal government to shrink its footprint, unless it is willing to add inducements and guarantees to the terms of the agreement with local government. Federal government efforts to sell land to private business for uses that are not favored by local government will, in some instances, precipitate considerable angst against the federal government and political pressure against the sale. In cases where the land has residual contamination and little market value, the only option may be environmental conservation. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.