Finding South Dakota’s “Next Big Thing” was a request from Governor Noem in her State of the State address last year. This year, legislators will be considering a proposal from South Dakota State University and the School of Mines for South Dakota’s next big thing.
The two colleges have been working on a joint effort to develop South Dakota’s bioprocessing research, development, and teaching capabilities. This collaborative effort would be a public-private partnership designed to bring together faculty and research staff from both colleges, along with private industry, to develop new uses and new co-products from crops and timber.
We anticipate seeing a bill asking for one-time funds to allow SDSU and the School of Mines to develop plans for a bioprocessing research and development facility. The effort would draw on the engineering, biology, and agronomy expertise of the schools, combined with the ingenuity of South Dakota students, to work with industry partners to find and develop new products that will add value to crops and timber, and create jobs for South Dakotans.
The legislature next year would review the plans and decide how to move forward with building and staffing the facility. Private industry has already expressed support for investing in this initiative.
Another area the Governor touched on in the State of the State Address is tourism. This week is the annual Tourism Conference in Pierre. This year’s theme – “Great Faces, Great Places” – is a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the tourism slogan. According to the Governor, South Dakota’s tourism industry has recorded nine straight years of record growth. Nearly nine percent of all jobs in South Dakota are related to the tourism industry.
The Governor also highlighted the impact of pheasant hunting on our state’s economy. The Department of Game, Fish & Parks will be teaming with the Department of Tourism to promote South Dakota as the pheasant capital of the world. Part of this effort is to enhance wildlife habitat. We will see a bill this session to implement a Wildlife Stamp, similar to the Duck Stamp, to help fund habitat efforts.
So often the legislative agenda is driven by reacting to problems. It is encouraging to see proposals that seek to create future opportunities.
If any District 24 resident has any big ideas that will help the future of South Dakota, please share your thoughts.
District 24 legislators have our first legislative coffee set for Pierre on February 1, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce building. We welcome your questions and comments.