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South Dakota Growth Fueled By Energy, Technology Sectors

Dec/Jan 09
The past years' successes revolve around energy and agriculture, says Kim Olson, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. South Dakota ranks fourth nationally for wind energy potential based on average wind speed and suitable sites. In renewable energy news, Tower Tech Systems is expanding wind tower manufacturing operations in Brandon, resulting in the creation of 150 new jobs. On the traditional energy side, Hyperion Resources Inc. is considering Elk Point for its first green technology oil refinery. The project is now in the permitting process. "Many of our state's natural resources satisfy the needs of companies seeking clean technologies for sophisticated advanced energy projects," says Olson.

Although agricultural prices tend to fluctuate with the economy and weather-related conditions, corn and wheat crops play a large part in the economic base of the Coyote State. Three ethanol companies - Poet, VeraSun and Glacial Lakes - are headquartered in the state.

Economic development also is focused on fostering biotechnology; medical, agricultural and information technology; medical device manufacturing, and firearms projects, according to Olson. The Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and Avera Research Institute are investing in medical research in the eastern part of the state. Agricultural biotechnology continues to sprout out of the traditional agriculture industry. A technology corridor is also developing in the west, with the establishment of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), a former Homestake gold mine in the Black Hills, near Lead, that was turned over to the state. Many scientific investigations, specifically astrophysics and physics, require a deep underground environment, shielded from cosmic rays and other background radiation by thousands of feet of rock. Homestake is the deepest mine in the United States, reaching a depth of more than 8,000 feet.

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