BOX ELDER, S.D. (KELO) — Since 2019, the Ellsworth Air force Base and Box Elder community have been preparing for the B-21 Raider to arrive as well as thousands more people moving to town.
From new hotels and restaurants to housing developments and even a new Main Street, the City of Box Elder is filled with projects.
“This is exciting because our Liberty Boulevard and our Main Street that we now have will be where businesses will be located and they are starting already and we are excited to see that. It’ll make it so that people are glad to be living here, proud to be living here and we are finding that to be true,” Mayor Larry Larson said.
Mayor Larry Larson says Box Elder is one of the fastest growing cities in South Dakota, and thousands more military personnel and families are expected to move to the area.
“Even before the B-21, we were experiencing at least a ten percent a year growth. So pretty good growth each year with the B-21 coming of course we will see considerably more but it’s exciting,” Mayor Larson said.
The Ellsworth Development Authority says there are over 30 projects either underway or coming in the near future on the Ellsworth Airforce Base alone.
Altogether they cost more than a billion dollars.
“Everything from maintenance facilities that are specific to the B-21 to simulators training buildings for the training unit that we are going to have so all B-21 operation facilities,” Scott Landguth, Exec. Dir. of the SD Ellsworth Development Authority, said.
The first construction project started on the base just last year, and there are many more in the works.
The B-21 Raider is a 650 million dollar bomber that is going to be operating in the next few years.
“The plane is under construction, everything seems to be on schedule so the mid-20s we should be seeing planes landing at Ellsworth,” Landguth said.
In the meantime, contractors and developers, like Dream Design International Inc., are busy.
” I am really excited for Box Elder and the entire region. We have a lot of things going in our community that are really great that we have not experienced in the past and it’s a move in the right direction,” Shafai said.
Houses and apartments are going up in eight different neighborhoods to accommodate for the growing population. Builders have faced some challenges, including weather delays and supply chain issues.
“That was beginning to be a huge challenge for the last 24 months and that is starting to ease up so hopefully next year, we will see a lot better supply chain and have less issues with it,” Shafai said.
However, with the weather getting warmer and so many projects underway, the Mayor believes the city is prepared for the B-21 Raider.
“We are working with the developers to see what we can do to help them continue to build and bring things in especially business. But the housing is great, we like to see people come out here and live out here,” Mayor Larson said.
The unveiling of the B-21 Raider took place last December in Palmdale, California.