Some of the most important national security work in the entire country just got a little easier. For the last 18 months, more than 750 U.S. servicemembers at Offutt Air Force Base have had to travel to Lincoln for all of their flying operations, taking more than 19,000 bus trips and trekking 1.2 million miles across I-80.

Thankfully, those road trips are no more. On Friday, September 30, I was honored to be at the ribbon cutting for the reopening of the Offutt runway—an event that signaled the resumption of full flying operations on October 3.

This runway reopening is a gamechanger for the headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command and the 55th Wing. It is almost immeasurable what Offutt means to the country. The country remembers the images of the Commander in Chief landing here at Offutt on 9/11. USSTRATCOM was chosen because of the communication abilities, location and overall security.

In good times and challenging times, the importance and impact of Offutt Air Force Base is unmatched. However, the 70-year-old runway had seen better days. It was time for our state-of-the-art Air Force Base and our world-class service men and women to get a state-of-the-art runway.

The Greater Omaha Chamber was proud to be a strategic partner in Offutt’s mission to secure this essential upgrade. The Chamber recognizes that on top of the job that Offutt provides in protecting our country, they also play an invaluable role in our local economy. According to a 2021 report issued by Offutt, the Air Force Base had an economic impact of $2.6 billion to the local Omaha area. Offutt is also the largest employer in the area, with more than 10,000 individuals employed (6,000+ military personnel and almost 4,000 civilian employees).

In our role as the first stop for all things business in the Greater Omaha area, The Greater Omaha Chamber works to ensure that Offutt operates in a thriving economic ecosystem, so that it can focus on its national security mission. We want to keep Offutt’s mission right here in Nebraska forever. With the right resources secured – like a brand-new runway – we can make that happen.

As long as there is a Greater Omaha Chamber, Offutt will always have an advocate on its behalf. We will always keep the men and women who serve our great country here in our backyard in mind when we do.