S.D. lawmakers are betting $1 million on adding a Brookings bio-processing facility

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A conversation a few days before state lawmakers began their 2019 session could pay off a year later, as South Dakota agricultural producers seek to make new products from their crops and timber.

State House members gave final approval Tuesday to HB 1100. It appropriates $1 million to the South Dakota Board of Regents for design and development of a new bio-processing facility at Brookings.

The bill says the money is to be used in collaboration with South Dakota State University, based in Brookings, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City — both are engineering schools — as well as industry partners.

The regents govern the state universities.

Representative David Anderson, a Hudson Republican, was prime sponsor of the measure. He said Wednesday that Governor Kristi Noem supports it. The legislation is headed to her desk.

There isn’t a specific plan but there are ideas, Anderson said. The governor recently kicked off South Dakota’s ‘Open For Business’ campaign to stir interest in the state’s economic development potential.

“This could be the next big thing. We just don’t know what that is,” Senator Jeff Partridge, a Rapid City Republican, said during the Senate consideration. “A research park will be established at some point in time. The price tag on that is far bigger than $1 million.

“This money right here is for architectural design and engineering study, to be able to have concrete numbers in order to go out and fund-raise,” Partridge explained. “Private industry has had a great interest in doing something in South Dakota in bio-processing. They already are, actually, with ethanol and other products like that.”

He said shipping half of South Dakota’s “low-value crop” out of state was no longer acceptable. “We need to do something different.” He added that South Dakota also ships many of its well-educated students out of state too.

The University of South Dakota has a development park at Sioux Falls.

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