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Missile defense system could come to Michigan

Citizens at a public event in 2015 expressed some concern about making Battle Creek a military target. But more were interested in the potential jobs the missile complex may deliver.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan may become the home of a new intercontinental ballistic missile defense system.

Fort Custer in Battle Creek is one of four sites the Pentagon is considering, should Congress approve the $3 billion project to install up to 60 missiles aimed at countering any attack on the East Coast. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Fred Upton toured the facility yesterday. They plan on returning before Labor Day with the entire Michigan Congressional delegation in a show of support.

In April, State Rep. David Maturen, R-Brady Township, oversaw the passage of a resolution that encouraged the U.S. Department of Defense to construct the system at Fort Custer. He says the program would mean thousands of new jobs for Michigan workers. “We’re talking probably thousands of construction jobs, at least 300 permanent military jobs, and maybe two to three times as many civilian jobs.” He added this does not account for the work that would likely spill over into the rest of Michigan.

Maturen explained that Fort Custer’s location makes it a prime candidate. With the Air National Guard and I-94 in close proximity, any transportation needs could be easily met.

Maturen also dismissed any security concerns, explaining that the location of nuclear waste plants on Lake Michigan already make the state a target. “If [people] are worried about a threat existing with the placement of the missile defense initiative, we already have enough of a reason for somebody to hit us if they want.”

A decision from Washington is expected by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.