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Business & Economics

High-tech battery factory plans to bring more than 1,200 jobs to Rapid City

Æsir Technologies
Elevate Rapid City
A rendering of the future Æsir factory in Rapid City

A high-tech battery company plans to create a four-building campus and eventually hire more than 1,200 people in Rapid City.

Æsir Technologies creates nickel-zinc batteries that serve data centers and 5G networks, according to a news release from Elevate Rapid City. The batteries provide backup power to prevent data loss or service interruption during power outages.

"Not only is it high tech but it's a new technology that's cheaper to build, has a higher capacity, is environmentally safe to both manufacture and recycle. It's kind of a win-win-win," said Matt Brunner, economic development director of Elevate Rapid City.

Æsir, headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, says the Rapid City factory will produce nearly two-billion-watt hours of batteries per year.

It plans to hire up to 400 people in its first five years before expanding to more than 1,000 workers, according to a news release and video from Gov. Kristi Noem.

"With this new facility, Æsir is helping drive our state to the forefront of the tech market," Noem said.

The company hopes to begin production in the next 18 to 24 months, Brunner said. Starting wages could be 17 or 18-dollars-and-hour but that's subject to change with the market.

Æsir will be the first business at the future Rushmore Industrial Center at Highway 79 and Old Folsom Road, Brunner said. The company will build a 150,000-square-foot factory before expanding into a four-building campus with 600,000-square feet.

Dream Design International of Rapid City is building the industrial center and campus.

Brunner says Æsir will have fewer emissions than the typical factory.

"It's not going to be like your traditional factories with those smokestacks," he said. "There's not going to be a need for any type of water or ground remediation which is incredible for a factory of this size."

Nickel-zinc batteries last as long and are safer than lithium-ion, Æsir said in a news release. Most material and equipment for the batteries will be sourced from Michigan and the Philippines.

Jobs at Æsir will include high-level science and engineering positions, supervisors and managers, and entry-level workers.

Brunner said Æsir, Elevate, the city and state are aware the company is coming to Rapid City during a housing and labor shortage. He said they will all work together on solutions.

"We are crazy short on homes. We are short probably we figure anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 units," Brunner said.

Some jobs will be filled by newcomers to the area. But Brunner said the company is very interested in School of Mine graduates, some of whom moved away because they couldn't find local jobs in their field.

Æsir has reached out to the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes about job opportunities and investing in the company.

The company also hopes to attract early retirees and other people who've left the workforce. Brunner said these people might return to work for the right opportunity.

Æsir has secured $250 million in investments through U.S. Finance and the local investment community, the news release says. South Dakota will provide up to a $1 million workforce development grant as well as debt support for the building and equipment.

The first building will cost $90 million, but total construction costs will come in at $300 million, Æsir President and CEO Randy Moore told the Rapid City Journal.

Moore said the company chose Rapid City over 20 other sites. He said the city provides easy access to highways, planes and rail, while the state has a helpful tax climate and economic-development assistance.

Æsir is also involved in the medical, critical infrastructure, defense and aerospace industries. Its Joplin facility is developing nickel-zinc technology for military submarines and missiles.