South Dakota: The state for business

Gov. Kristi Noem

During my first State of the State address, I announced I wanted South Dakota to lead the nation, raising the bar in everything we do. We immediately got to work on that, earning big wins like Constitutional Carry and the Second Century Initiative to grow pheasant and wildlife habitat. Now, South Dakota will raise the bar in economic development.  
Earlier this month, Site Selection magazine released the rankings for its 2021 Governor’s Cup. Site Selection presents this award to the states with the most business development projects in a calendar year.
 The result from those rankings sends a clear message: South Dakota competes with some of the largest states in the nation for big business projects. Our state ranked second overall for per-capita projects, with Kansas narrowly claiming the Cup.  
But that is not the big news.
From 2019 to 2021, our ranking jumped from 37th to second in projects per capita. The 2021 criteria focused on projects with an investment of $1 million or more. The total investment in South Dakota — just counting eligible Site Selection projects — amounted to an astounding $1.2 billion, adding 2.8 million square feet of production space and an expected increase of 2,600 jobs around the state.
Some of those projects have North Sioux City’s metro area and Sioux Falls claiming the number one and one spots in Site Selection’s metropolitan-area rankings, respectively, for per-capita projects.   
Our “Open for Business” message has captured the attention of big companies around the country and driven this phenomenal growth. The site selection data understates the total tangible business growth in South Dakota—my Office of Economic Development in 2021 facilitated $1.7 billion in total investment, for an overall increase of 3,700 jobs around the state.
The path I chose for South Dakota during the pandemic attracted businesses to our state. But we also are a business-friendly, low-tax, affordable state to start and own a business. We have worked for years to develop a business climate that is welcoming to innovators and industry leaders.
We brought in the Aesir Technology battery manufacturing facility in Rapid City, which Site Selection highlighted in their 2021 analysis. This project will add 400 skilled jobs for producing the batteries that service data centers and 5G cell phone networks.
Amazon’s new fulfillment center in Sioux Falls adds three million square feet of factory floor, welcoming 1,000 new full-time jobs this year. CJ Foods, which specializes in producing Asian food, will build a state-of-the-art facility – the largest of its kind – in Sioux Falls. The project is estimated to be $500 million in construction for a new 700,000 square-foot building with 600 new jobs by 2025.
But companies did not only invest in our big cities. We saw new developments in Canton, Belle Fourche  and other smaller communities around the state.  
We have come a long way in the last three years.  From our business development growth to expanding high-speed internet statewide, we have ushered in a new era of innovation. And we show no signs of slowing down.  
Just this week, the legislature overwhelmingly approved my recommendation to fund a $30 million investment in the cyber research program at Dakota State University. This investment will help double the number of students who will graduate with the skills to land six-figure jobs out of college.  
South Dakota: the state for business today, tomorrow, and into the future.

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