Ground broken for 20-year development


Tara Halbritter & Nancy Preteau

Ground broke for South Dakota’s first research park Sept 18. just to the east of SDSU in Brookings. The Innovation Campus, just southeast of 22nd Avenue and the Highway 14 bypass, will eventually include 19 buildings worth over $200 million.

The research park will serve as an incubator for ideas and research that spring from the university.

“It’s not about what we’re doing today, it’s about what we’re doing for tomorrow,” Laird Larson, an agricultural producer, said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Miller outlined the 20-year plan. She said at least 19 buildings will inhabit the 125-acre plot. The park will allow university scientists to conduct research then develop their ideas further with business plans.

“This will exponentially expand our ability to move new ideas from the laboratory to our economy,” she said.

At the groundbreaking Gov. Mike Rounds announced the establishment of the 2010 Center of Excellence for Drought Tolerance Biotechnology. And to pay for it, he pledged nearly $3 million dollars over three years.

The entire park’s funding will include $2.5 million from the Economic Development Administration, $1.5 million from Vision Brookings, $310,000 from the Crop Improvement Association, $496,000 from a HUD grant and $500,000 from the state of South Dakota.

Once finished, the park could include hotels, a greenhouse and a wind turbine research facility.

Miller hopes innovative research will strengthen the school, the state and, ultimately, the country. She said the less dependence on foreign sources of energy, the better.

“We’re going to have a robust economy built on the new economy,” Miller said. “I hope the expansion will encourage SDSU students and graduates looking for careers to stay right here in Brookings.”

Rounds said the research park is, “proof of what South Dakotans can do when they put their minds together and work.”

He supported the project from the beginning stages.

“I believe that if young people are going to stay in South Dakota, we need job opportunities for them as well as challenges,” he said. “They could take high-tech and research jobs in other states, but when they leave, it is South Dakota’s loss.”

Students attending the ceremony seemed to show excitement for the project.

“This is a big event for SDSU and the state. A great deal of work was put into the project by various parties, and in years to come, I expect to only see good things come,” said Sam Nelson, a political science senior and former assistant to Bob Miller, interim director of the SDSU Growth Partnership.

“Not only is this a great day for South Dakota, but it is also a great day for the students of SDSU. The research park has the potential to provide great opportunities for student participation in future research,” said Students’ Association President Alex Halbach.

Rounds said the new center for excellence will allow for the development of new varieties of corn, wheat, oil seed and possibly short-season soybeans.

“We are not just breaking ground for the new research park, we are planting a seed for tomorrow,” the governor said.

Miller said she knew the governor would come through on his word to get funding, “because he is a Jackrabbit.”

#1.884323:2068306975.jpg:SDSU Innovation Illus.jpg:An artist’s illustration shows the future of the Innovation Campus.:#1.884322:3444145276.jpg:innovationcampus02.jpg:Regents and politicians break ground on the 125-acre research park to be build over the next 20 years.: