Local leaders are brainstorming how to suit area needs in anticipation of Ellsworth growing

RAPID CITY, S.D. — With the arrival of the B-21 Raider bomber growing closer and closer, Elevate Rapid City, local mayors and other leaders are looking at ways to fit the anticipated needs of a growing population.

“We have a list of opportunities, things that are needed,” says Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender. “For example, housing, obviously, is going to be one of those things, and other services, needed to support a larger base and a larger population.”

Allender also says that though the date for the B-21 arrival is not yet known, the city — and Black Hills area — is ready to adapt to an influx of people.

“Now is the time for the groups to come together and identify a strategy moving forward to make it more consistent with the needs of the air force and contractors when they come to Rapid City,” says Allender. “It will be good for us to get together and attack any weaknesses in our ability to support those additional personnel at the moment.”

Though, Allender suggests, that in his eyes, the housing need will not be addressed by leaders.

“The need, to me, will be answered by neighborhood development,” he said. “Not the building of independent, custom homes here and there but building neighborhoods at a time. Dream Design is one that has been looking at developing entire neighborhoods, which are self-contained with some of the services they need, such as medical, dental or convenience.”

Elevate CEO and President Tom Johnson believes there are already great things in Rapid City but some improvements need to be made to attract workers.

“We think that the growth that is going to occur will also need new amenities,” Johnson said. “Like housing is something that a lot of folks mention. As we grow, there is a continued need for housing. We’ve spoken to at least four or five private developers and made them aware of the coming needs for housing.”

Johnson also mentioned the need for better schools.

“We’ve heard from many doctors, nurses and professionals that if we don’t have facilities that are matching our world class education and our world class amenities they simply won’t look here, they’ll look somewhere else,” he said.

Johnson says that Ellsworth itself has an economic impact of almost $400 million annually. For every one job they have 2.64 are estimated to be indirectly brought in.

Though Ellsworth had no comments as to when the B-21 Raider would be arriving, how many or the overall community impact, but officials say information will be released in the coming months.

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