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Universities Seek Funding For New Research Buildings

Charles Michael Ray

Universities across South Dakota are proposing building projects to enhance research and development capabilities.    The South Dakota Board of Regents is submitting funding proposals to the governor's office for the projects.  The outcome of the process could lead to new facilities at various university campuses and even a major new building in Rapid City.

Officials at the South Dakota School of Mines announced a $3 million land donation in the middle of downtown Rapid City for what could become the South Dakota Institute of Materials and Manufacturing.

School of Mines President Heather Wilson made the case before the Board of Regents.

“The proposal is for a $20 million dollar facility. About 42 thousand square feet, it will include the Composites and Polymer Engineering lab, our biomedical materials where we just won a significant grant in concert with the University of South Dakota, robotics and automation which is the future of manufacturing and controls, and a variety of other kind of critical areas for manufacturing,” says Wilson.  

Wilson says  local business leader Ray Hillenbrand made the land donation for the project contingent on the location being used by SDSM&T as a research facility.  Wilson calls the donation a transformative gift for Rapid City that can bring the community forward.

A second proposal from the South Dakota State University includes a $68 million Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory.  Dakota State University is proposing Cyberinfrastructure Security Research and Development Labs at a cost of about $18 million.  And the University of South Dakota is proposing a $14 million Discovery District GEAR Expansion.  

Funding for the four proposed facilities is part of the Board of Regents 2018 budget request.   The Regents are prioritizing funding proposals from the universities.   Funding could come over a period of years, with the top priority projects first.

The Governor may choose to include the new buildings in his budget, but any final approval still needs to come from the state legislature.