2022 is on track to be another fantastic year for economic investment in South Dakota. Since I took office, I have championed our state as the best place in the country to do business. We had all the ingredients to succeed, even before the COVID pandemic hit, but now we’re breaking records for economic growth and business investment.
We have always had the potential to become an economic powerhouse – we’re one of the best states in the nation to start a small business thanks to our low taxes, limited red tape and regulations, and – most importantly – our hardworking people. We can be flexible and innovative in ways that other states can’t be.
The attention that we received during the pandemic gave us the opportunity to tell this story. And now, we have another success story to celebrate. We recently welcomed Gevo to Lake Preston and celebrated the groundbreaking of their new facility – the largest economic investment in South Dakota history.
Gevo’s new, $1 billion jet fuel plant will be a world-class sustainable fuel production facility. They will create 1,000 jobs during construction and 90 long-term, high-paying jobs. It’s the first billion dollar project in the history of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Gevo will also be giving back to their community on day one by supporting two Build Dakota Scholarships for students at Lake Area Technical College. These students will start their careers right here in South Dakota. And that underscores another major success that we’ve had – South Dakota is turning around the longstanding trend of students leaving the state. Now, all the exciting new jobs are right here at home!
Gevo is one of dozens of businesses that have noticed our great state over the last few years and chosen to expand or relocate in South Dakota. My Office of Economic Development facilitated $4.5 billion in capital investment in South Dakota in 2020 and 2021 alone. Communities from Belle Fourche to Brandon to Yankton thrived in a state where government stayed out of the way. We allowed families and businesses to make their own decisions.
Along with Gevo’s incredible investment in our state, we’ve seen longtime South Dakota businesses growing their operations here. Valley Queen in Milbank announced the largest expansion in their history in May. Terex celebrated the grand opening of their new manufacturing headquarters in Watertown. And in March, Dakota State University secured $90 million to make cybersecurity the state’s next big industry with a new lab facility in Sioux Falls.
Companies like Gevo are also proving that government mandates aren’t necessary for our energy industry to be environmentally responsible. They are taking the lead to “go green,” and they’re working with our farmers to do it. The facility will use sustainable, regionally grown corn as its feedstock and will pay farmers a premium for sustainably grown corn. This is one area where the free market should – and is – taking the lead.
I’m proud of Gevo and all the innovative, hardworking businesses in South Dakota. They are helping make our state an example to the nation.