Economist predicts a South Dakota boom

Homestake mine
The Homestake mine complex near Lead, South Dakota.
Photo courtesy of South Dakota Science and Technology Authority

The industrial revolution hit the rest of the developed world about 100 years ago. While there was change in South Dakota the focus proudly remains on agriculture.

Sanford Children's Hospital
And artists drawing of Sanford Children's Hospital
Photo courtesy of Sanford Health

South Dakota State University Economics Professor John Sondey says the shift is finally coming from an agricultural based economy to shift toward a more industrialized economy simply because it takes fewer farmers to produce crops.

Sondey says the recent announcements of a National Underground Science Lab in the abandoned Homestate Gold Mine in Lead, South Dakota, and the expansion of Sanford Health in Sioux Falls speeds up the economic shift.

"We are talking about generating a lot of jobs, a lot of high paying professional jobs, this will grow in and of itself," says Sodney. "In economics we have the multiplier effect where spending begets spending begets spending."

Building site
Construction has started on a new children's hospital in Sioux Falls.
MPR Photo/Cara Hetland

Sondey says the ripple effect will be huge and should last for some time. He says South Dakota is just beginning to be noticed by researchers and businesses.

"It may have been just the ultimate realization that we do have the resources in this state. Somebody convinced them that we could do it here in this state, we don't have to go to Minnesota or Nebraska or New Jersey," says Sondey.

Sondey says it's called the comparative advantage. That means there's a certain pool of human capital, educational levels, cheap and available resources like two major interstates, railroads, and land. Sondey says there is momentum for this transition.

"It's like the frontier used to be, right across the border is an unexploited, underutilized resource that people are realizing is there, is available and has a lot to offer. I don't know if it's simply P-R or living in the information age as we do today. The information is more available, hey, let's locate in South Dakota," says Sondey.

With economic growth and urbanization, there are problems. Sondey says that's the future and officials need to plan ahead. He says the state can only go forward and continue to grow.

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