RAPID CITY, S.D. — The arrival of the B-21 raider will have a huge impact on the Black Hills community.
The expansion will bring about 1,400 airmen and their families to the area.
Tom Johnson, President and CEO of Elevate Rapid City, says that the organization is in talks with seven businesses, including B-21 maker Northrop Grumman, who are looking at coming to Rapid City due to the base expansion.
Those in the area could see a surge in auxiliary jobs and an opportunity for local business growth as well.
“We think there’s going to be two to three times of those indirect jobs, so that 1,500 jobs is going to turn into 3,000 or 4,000 indirect jobs as well,” Johnson said. “Those airmen and women are going to shop in this community, payroll is going to multiply. It’s going to mean other companies coming and growing because of that.”
During a B-21 Industry Forum on Monday, around 600 people joined with Air Force officials, including John W. Henderson. Officials told local businesses about the expansion plans and the business opportunities that will go with it.
They discussed how to bid on federal contracts, keeping the business local, and creating more jobs and opportunities for growth in the area, as well as pre-registering to be in the federal database. It’s important for local businesses to have their contact information in the database.
“It’s exciting for us to give opportunities for local businesses to expand, grow and serve the needs of the U.S. Air force, so it’s a hand-in-glove thing for us,” Johnson said.
Scott Landguth, the Executive Director of the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority, is urging local companies to submit their bids as soon as possible, and said that there is a general overall greater need for local businesses to submit bids for more federal construction opportunities.
Officials say local companies usually are less expensive and more cost-efficient when doing a project in their area.
Construction of the addition will begin once the environmental impact study is complete and the U.S. Air Force Secretary signs off on it.