Nucor Steel Arkansas and Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. have each donated $500,000 to the Cold War Museum project in Blytheville. The $1 million donation will aid ongoing efforts to make the center a major Delta tourism destination by sharing the unique history of one of the most pivotal conflicts in history.
Nucor Steel Arkansas and Nucor-Yamato Steel each operate steel mills in Blytheville. A timetable for completing the project has not been set.
“Nucor is proud to support The National Cold War Center. Once complete, the center will be a treasure for residents and an attraction for people from all over the world,” said Jon Witherow, Vice President and General Manager of Nucor-Yamato Steel Company. “We succeed when Mississippi County succeeds, and we couldn’t be more excited to give back to our community by supporting the continued development of The National Cold War Center.”
Mary Gay Shipley, chair of The National Cold War Center Board of Directors, thanked the companies for their investment.
“We appreciate the incredible generosity of companies that already play a crucial role in our local community and its economy. We are especially glad that these industrial leaders recognize the economic impact The National Cold War Center will have in Mississippi County,” said Shipley. “We appreciate these great local partners for investing in Mississippi County and preserving crucial history by supporting The National Cold War Center.”
The National Cold War Center is located on the campus of the former Blytheville Air Force Base (originally known as the Blytheville Army Airfield), which opened in 1942 as a training facility for World War II pilots. In 1958, the base was converted to a Strategic Air Command alert mission and remained a key U.S. military command for three decades – through events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the signing of the treaties that officially ended the Cold War in the early 1990s.
The Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority have teamed to build the Center. It will center on the base’s still-intact “alert” compound, a facility that housed U.S. Air Force B-52 crews during wartime efforts of the 1950s through the 1990s. The museum could cost up to $20 million to build, and officials had hoped to have it open by 2023, but that timeline was before the COVID-19 Pandemic. R. Byron Carlock Jr., a Blytheville native, is spearheading fund development.
In 2018, the air base was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since that time, a feasibility study has projected that a full museum would likely draw over 50,000 visitors annually after three years, Shipley said. An additional study evaluated structural design and cost implications.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration recently dedicated $1.9 million towards the project. During a meeting in Blytheville earlier this week, Hutchinson said the museum would be a vital tourism destination in the Arkansas Delta.
“I believe the Cold War Museum is critical to our nation’s history,” the outgoing governor said.