Thoughts from Dale Steenbergen-
The difference between communities that advance and those who do not is, in my humble opinion, directly related to their steadfastness of labor related to projects that matter.
Your Chamber has been diligently working on items that have required long-term commitment and ongoing continued effort for the foreseeable future. These include the new missile system, the Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) project to house our military, and the housing crisis.
GBSD, the missile system replacement, is a hinge-pin project that means billions in revenue for our community. We have been working on this project since 2012, and its implications are both exciting and a bit scary. GBSD brings a safe, secure, reliable strategic deterrent that defends our country.
The good news is that the project is proceeding, and in fact, accelerating. It brings thousands of good-paying jobs, strengthens our military base, and brings billions in overall economic impact to the region. The project also means that our already-stretched housing market will be stretched further. It also means our tight labor market will become tighter.
From a local perspective, how we manage the project will significantly impact how much we benefit.
The EUL continues to move forward. The project is designed to offer a low-cost housing alternative for local men and women in uniform. Currently, many of these folks traipse off to the northern front range for a place to live, truly a disservice to those who serve in our military, and truly a financial loss for our community.
The housing piece is not the only component of the EUL. We are also working on an exciting commercial development for this area, known to many as the CFD Park and Ride. I expect you can understand the high demand for this property offering direct interstate access.
Again, how we approach and develop this project will make a huge difference in our future.
Housing, in general, is a significant issue for our community. Cheyenne’s housing costs are above the national average, and we don’t garner the income levels to support these increasing real estate costs. Our overall economic and community development plan should work to match wages with the cost of living, but it is not something we have done well in southeast Wyoming. Our problem is actually getting worse as we see inflationary housing trends that far outpace advancements in wages.
The Chamber has been working on this issue for the past three years. We did a housing study that suggests we need 3000+ housing units in Cheyenne and Laramie County immediately. There is good news on this front, and we want to say kudos to the Mayor and City Council for advancing an affordable housing task force to address this issue. It is a complicated problem but one we have to address if we want to be a community of choice.
We have been working on GBSD since 2012, and it will probably be another 20 years before it is complete.
The key to these problems is to keep working the problem. “Proud Mary” is a great song that says exactly that. It is incumbent on us to stay committed to these projects until they are finished.
It may be true that good things come to those who wait, but it does take patience. It is said that patience is a virtue, and it is likely true. But given a choice between patience and progress, I will choose progress. Besides, as Benjamin Franklin once said (and I paraphrase), I don’t want to be too virtuous. It might make others feel bad about their shortcomings.