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Deal may displace mobile home residents near Air Force base

RAPID CITY (AP) — South Dakota plans to give a $3.2 million building to a Black Hills businessman in exchange for his agreement to demolish 125 mobile homes he owns near Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The Rapid City Journal reports that Branden Bestgen plans to convert a former Western Dakota Technical Institute building in Rapid City into a plant that produces modular units, such as individual hotel rooms, that will be shipped to building sites and stacked into larger structures. The plant is projected to employ at least 100 people.

The mobile homes are close to the southeast end of Ellsworth's runway. Proponents hope removing them from a potential accident zone will make the base less vulnerable to future base closings.

The governor could sign legislation that includes the deal as soon as Monday.

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