The President and CEO of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce says a planned project to replace the Minuteman III nuclear missiles affiliated with F.E. Warren Air Force Base will boost the local economy for years to come.

In fact, he says the project will create thousands of jobs and pump billions of dollars into the local economy over the next decade or so. Steenbergen made the comments on the "Weekend in Wyoming'' program on Saturday on AM 650, KGAB.

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The current Minuteman III nuclear missiles are slated to be replaced with the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missiles as an upgrade to the nation's nuclear deterrent. Steenbergen says the Sentinel system has already been approved for implementation once. But because it turned out to be a lot more expensive than originally expected (37 percent over projections according to defensenews.com), the higher cost triggered what is known as a Nunn-McCurdy review.

But Steenbergen says he expects that process to be completed in June, adding ''we don't expect any problems from that." He qualifies that by saying there is "an outside chance'' of a problem with the review, but says ''it would take something pretty drastic" to halt the project.

Preliminary Work Is Already Underway

Steenbergen says some work is already underway in anticipation of the project moving forward.

He says some of the preliminary work underway includes obtaining rights of way, replacing 75-year-old communication cables, and building facilities at F.E.Warren to help get ready for the project. He says $148 million has been allocated for the project locally starting on July 1. He adds that $1.6 billion has been earmarked for F.E. Warren for work on the project the following year, and he says some of the physical work of installing the new system could get underway on the base next year. Missile replacement could start within a couple of years.

Thousands Of Jobs Expected To Be Created

Steenbergen says 150 missile sites locally will be rebuilt to accommodate the new missiles. That should translate to "a couple of thousand" direct jobs added to the local economy at any one time and about the same number of indirect jobs. ''We are talking about thousands of jobs in the Cheyenne area, and good-paying jobs'' he says. While the direct economic impact on the local economy is unkown, Steengbergen estimates the project will pump $7 billion into the economy over the next decade or so. But he says even if it only turns out to be half of that, that is still significant to a Cheyenne economy estimated at around $2.5 billion annually.

Steenbergen says he thinks the project's total cost could come in at around $130-$140 billion nationally. F.E. Warren is one of three nuclear missile bases in the nation expected to receive a portion of that money.

Hear the Weekend in Wyoming interview with Dale Steenbergen in the audio file below.

Meet the Four-Legged Heroes of the Cheyenne Police Department

They may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but make no bones about it, police dogs play a vital role in the fight against crime.

In many situations, they're the first ones to put their lives on the line to protect their human partners, proving that not all heroes wear capes, some wear fur coats.

Gallery Credit: Joy Greenwald

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