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March 2010 Report on The Plains States: Discovering and Nurturing New Business

Feb/Mar 10
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In Minnesota, Daikin McQuay is dramatically expanding in several areas: 2009 heralded the opening of the Daikin McQuay Applied Development Center, a state-of-the-art facility that serves as the research institute for all Daikin McQuay applied products and will provide the research, design, and testing facilities for its products worldwide, particularly in fast-growing markets like China and India. "This is, in fact, where we designed the custom HVAC systems for use in the new One World Trade Center project," notes Bruce Dorey Ph.D., the firm's senior director of corporate strategy and planning. McQuay has manufacturing plants in Owatonna and Faribault and has added more than 160 new employees in Plymouth in the last year alone, bringing their total Minnesota work force to 850. The company also is relocating 70 researchers from Japan and Italy to Minnesota.

Minnesota appealed to Daikin McQuay for a number of reasons. "The strong research capability of the University of Minnesota was chief among them," notes Dorey. "The fact they have a Center for Sustainable Building Research, an Institute on the Environment, and are tied with MIT for the number-one ranking in the chemical engineering department were certainly strong factors. Also, we have felt strong support from our state government." Dorey also touted the "proximity to such great companies as 3M, Best Buy and Target" for providing "exciting collaborative possibilities."

Pedigree Technologies pointed out "three primary reasons why we've been able to grow our business as a North Dakota company in the face of a difficult economy." Ian McPherson, vice president-sales and marketing, says, "We have benefited from a well-educated talent pool, from very good universities combined with an affordable, business friendly environment, and the presence of core industries in the American economy like agriculture, manufacturing, and energy. Pedigree came out of the technology incubator at NDSU (North Dakota State University) so there are close ties there, but we have employees from universities throughout the region."

The firm is also working with the NAVAIR division of the Navy to build a real time surveillance platform. Pedigree helps companies manage their physical operations by tracking, locating, and monitoring a wide range of equipment and vehicles in the energy, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors to move products through the supply chain.

South Dakota's targeted industries include biotechnology, value-added agriculture, energy development, firearms, and information technology. Ample hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities give the firearms industry a good shot at success. In 2009 as a number of firearms-related companies undertook expansions or relocations-including Remington, Lakota Industries, TDI, and Bar-Sto.

After spending $2.8 million and doubling in size, Illinois-based Enertech in Mitchell, S.D., recently completed a 20,000-square-foot addition to the former Hydron Module facility. In addition to retaining the 21 existing positions, the manufacturer and distributor of geothermal heating and cooling systems plans to add 30 jobs in the Mitchell area. "Enertech Manufacturing has been able to undergo two plant expansions since 2007 thanks in large part to the South Dakota REDI loan program," says Steve Smith, president, CEO, and managing partner of Enertech Manufacturing, LLC, Mitchell. "This financing option is much more generous than those offered by other states and has allowed Enertech to enjoy continued growth."

The corridor between Manhattan, Kansas, and Columbia, Missouri, has become a center for the animal health and nutrition industries. Missouri's animal health sector includes more than 120 companies and 30 U.S. or global corporate headquarters, attracting $638 million in research by private companies, and providing employment to more than 20,000 private-sector employees. The industry has taken root so strongly that the U.S. Animal Health Association moved its headquarters to Missouri in 2007.

The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) strives to boost the animal sciences and biotechnology and life sciences firms by creating a stable, ongoing funding mechanism. Companies benefiting from MOSIRA that will need trained specialists can participate in the Training For Tomorrow initiative, a component of Governor Jay Nixon's 2010 jobs package that provides $12 million in competitive grants for that state's community colleges to train workers in a variety of high-tech, high-demand fields, including nursing, respiratory therapy, phlebotomy, and veterinary technology.

From wind farms to agriculture, from technology research to technical improvements, the Plains States are discovering and nurturing new business, promoting job growth, and following trends that will lead to a slow, but reliable economic recovery.

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