A technology company that started in Sioux Falls is the first tenant to announce it's moving into the empty Western Surety building on Phillips Avenue and it's bringing 150 new jobs with it.
It's the kind of environment you'd expect at a high-tech start-up company-- relaxed and fun. It's also this environment that will give new life to a building that's been sitting vacant for years.
"There's a micro-community downtown, where you're going to have more lofts, more apartments downtown; and so when you look at employee base of DocuTAP, your average age is late 20s, early 30s. So the environment of downtown, it's just going to foster more and more growth downtown," founder Eric McDonald said.
DocuTAP makes an application for iPads for electronic medical records and billing.
"One of the things that made us most successful is that we've focused on one niche and this niche has been the fastest growing niche in health care for the last three to four years, "McDonald said.
McDonald started the company at the technology incubator a decade ago. Now with 80 percent growth a year, it's bursting at the seams in its own building.
"So we're out of space. We'll be adding 150 new jobs over the next two to three years, so we have to have room for expansion; so we can continue to build on the west side. We could build on the south side, or we could expand downtown," McDonald said..
Craig Lloyd convinced him to choose downtown. Lloyd and Hegg Companies are planning an $8 million overhaul of the building.
"The entire building is going to be renovated; 're excited for a new tech feel, McDonald said.
Initially DocuTAP will take up 36,000 square feet on the third flood of the Western Surety building, but it plans to expand into 60,000 square feet of this building in about three years.
McDonald says his company is a textbook example of what can happen when a city invests in entrepreneurs who in turn reinvest in the community.
"We don't see our growth slowing down;we see that continuing," McDonald said.
DocuTAP hopes to occupy the space by June.
DocuTAP isn't the only company to move downtown. Total Card is leasing space for an additional 75 jobs in the old Minnegasco Building on South Main Avenue. Total Card is planning to consolidate all its employees in a downtown location.