By: David G. Brown, President & CEO – Greater Omaha Chamber
I am continually inspired and impressed by the sheer number of uniformed military members so present with their families in our community. For a person like me, who has never lived near a military town, it is a near constant reminder that the Omaha area has a unique asset nearby: Offutt Air Force Base.
Dedicated to protecting our nation, it, too, deserves protecting.
About 10,000 people work at Offutt Air Force Base, many of them civilians. The annual economic impact of its presence is about $1.5 billion. Dozens of private companies have facilities in the region to serve their customer, the military. Hundreds of other companies sell goods and services to the base and the military men and women stationed there.
It is a major economic engine of our regional economy, and it is recognized as such by our senators and congressmen in Washington, D.C., our governor, members of the Legislature and local elected officials.
There are several projects of late that all have a bearing on the future at Offutt:
- Missouri River levees impacted during the floods of 2011 need to be reinforced to protect both base facilities and developable land nearby. This project would cost approximately $25 million.
- The runway at Offutt, built decades ago, is beyond repair and in line to be replaced sometime soon. With design costing around $7.5 million and construction estimated at about $110 million, it is not an inexpensive project, but it is crucial to the continued success of the 55th Wing at Offutt.
- The construction of the new Strategic Command headquarters building is ongoing. This $1.2 billion project is the single largest Air Force construction project in the country and is — once again — crucial to the long-term effectiveness of StratCom at Offutt.
These are massive expenditures that will make a huge difference in the future of this region and this state. In a time of limited resources, it takes a coalition of groups – federal, state, regional, county and local government representatives and the private sector – working together with perseverance and a common purpose to make these projects happen.
They have in the past, and I know they will in the future because that common purpose is clear: to support the men and women of our military and the installations that support them here in Nebraska. The world will be a safer place as a result. And we will have a stronger economy.