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Heartland Technology Center to house DSU research projects

August 2, 2018

Research projects at Dakota State University are ambitious, to say the least. In fact, some are moving forward so fast that researchers can’t wait for next fall’s completion of the university’s new research and development center, the Madison Cyber Labs (MadLabs).

“Rather than sit back and wait for the MadLabs building to be completed, many research groups have started work,” said DSU President José-Marie Griffiths. “They are developing extensive partnerships with federal and state governments, in-state and out-of-state corporations, and as a result we need space now to house some of our R&D personnel and contracts.”

The space at the Heartland Technology Center (HTC) just north of the DSU campus was ideal for this use, so the DSU Foundation has purchased the HTC from the Lake Area Improvement Corporation (LAIC). The foundation will lease the 10,000 sq. foot building to the university.

“As Dakota State pursues its ambitious research agenda, there is a concurrent need to expand the spaces where new knowledge is discovered,” said Bob Preloger, interim vice president of Institutional Advancement. “The DSU Foundation’s acquisition of the Heartland facility addresses this immediate need and will supplement the new spaces that MadLabs will provide when it opens in the fall of 2019.”

The DSU Foundation requested a $660,000 REDL (Rural Economic Development Loan) from Heartland Consumers Power District to complete this purchase, which was finalized on July 31, 2018.

The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations. As a utility provider, Heartland may apply for REDL loans and pass them through for customer use. The Madison-based power company is one of only two entities in the state of South Dakota that can do so, and has a longstanding relationship and excellent track record with USDA.

USDA provides these zero-interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (referred to as the ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. These ultimate recipients repay the lending utility directly; the utility is responsible for repayment to the federal agency.

“USDA has certain criteria they look for when approving loans,” said Casey Crabtree, director of economic development at Heartland.

“This project checks all the boxes for what makes a great economic development project and therefore received high scoring from USDA,” Crabtree said. “A business incubator focusing on DSU’s strengths will have a long-lasting impact on the university, the community and the students who are able to utilize it. Heartland is proud to be a partner in seeing it to fruition.”

Research groups should be moving into the facility in September, Griffiths said. With almost five acres of land, there will also be space available for additional buildings if needed, she added.

“The sale of the Heartland Tech building was crucial to the future growth of DSU and the future economic development of Lake County,” said Rory Maynard, executive director of the LAIC.

“The LAIC and DSU have a great relationship and I am excited to be there for every step of their growth,” he added.   

LAIC built the HTC in 2006 as an incubator for businesses focused on technology and has since housed many start-up businesses.