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Construction begins on USD Discovery District in Sioux Falls, SD

Ground-breaking ceremony for the USD Discovery District in Sioux Falls, SD.

Ground was broken last week on the USD Discovery District, an 80-acre contemporary corporate and academic research park under development in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Business leaders from across the region were in attendance, as well as members of the U.S. Economic Development Administration and South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard.

“We are excited to see the equipment rolling and the dirt moving,” said USD Discovery District president Rich Naser, Jr.. “The Discovery District is South Dakota’s first innovation community and exemplifies the spirit of collaboration we have in South Dakota”

The USD Discovery District is a public-private partnership effort between the University of South Dakota, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the City of Sioux Falls, the Board of Regents and the business community through Forward Sioux Falls.

“The Discovery District will be the ultimate public-private partnership – bringing together research, industry and government in a unique effort that will ultimately sustain thousands of jobs in Sioux Falls,” said Angie Martinez, Director, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Denver Regional Office. “USD today is building on the unique assets of this region in a way that will have a lasting impact on students, the city, the region and the state.”

The goal of the district is to spur innovation-driven business through the development of specialized facilities and the creation of an environment fostering interaction between businesses, students, researchers and entrepreneurs.

“Our vision for the USD Discovery District is to create a dynamic and collaborative environment where talent, research and innovative businesses interact to create new ideas, new technologies and new opportunities,” said University of South Dakota president James W. Abbott who also serves as the Discovery District board chairman. “This is much grander than a research park. It’s about creating an urban innovation community to learn, work and live.”

Computer rendering of the completed USD Discovery District.

Abbott said that universities help drive a state’s economy and that’s one of the main reasons why the University of South Dakota is involved in the USD Discovery District.

“Great universities do three basic things each and every day. We teach, we foster research and we provide service to our state, region and students, said Abbott. “Think about the number of new companies that will be here, each and every day, each and every year, driving the innovative economy that South Dakota can foster.”

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said that the Discovery District was first proposed by former South Dakota Gov. George S. Mickelson and a group of business and education leaders over two decades ago. Their goal was to develop a research park that fostered world-class scientific studies and brought jobs and economic investment.

“The state’s commitment to furthering the development of the bioscience industry in South Dakota remains steadfast,”  said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “We’re excited to see companies like SAB Biotherapeutics and Alumend excel in South Dakota. These and soon others are committed to growing in South Dakota.”

When fully developed, the Discovery District will include an estimated 26 privately developed buildings and employ nearly 2,800 people.

Anchors for the park include the University Center, the Graduate Education and Applied Research (GEAR) Center including its pilot-scale cGMP facility, and USD’s Biomedical Engineering Program (BME). The District development is a private-public partnership between the University of South Dakota, the Board of Regents, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Forward Sioux Falls and the City of Sioux Falls.

“It’s exciting to see our vision taking shape,” said Naser. “We are essentially now ‘open for business’ and things are moving quickly. The District is in the process of seeking a development partner for the first building and reviewing hotel proposals.”

Christine McGuigan is the Associate Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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