Ascent Innovation Awarded $3 Million for New Business Incubator
Ascent Innovation and local leaders are honored to be awarded a grant by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the amount of $3 million towards the Rapid City Economic Development Foundation’s expansion project of the Ascent Innovation facility. Another $4.5 million in matching local funds will be used to build a new business incubator facility designed to provide assistance to manufacturing and technology startups looking to launch and grow their businesses in Rapid City.
The new investment is great news for the local economy; it is expected to initially generate more than 100 new jobs and spur further growth in Rapid City. It’s part of an overall economic development plan aimed at strengthening the regional economy, supporting private capital investment and adding jobs. The Black Hills Council of Local Governments’ regional planning efforts were instrumental in securing funding, and Mayor Steve Allender, following a unanimous vote by the City Council, acquired the building at 108 Main Street in 2017.
"We appreciate the support of our commmunity, our local and state level Economic Development Administration, and our Congressional representatives for being an integral part in creating more opportunities for technology and innovation in western South Dakota," said Executive Director Terri Haverly.
The new incubator will be located across the street from the United States Postal Service offices at 108 E. Main St. and will serve as a second location for Ascent Innovation. The original building, on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, is bursting at the seams, currently housing over 20 tenants. With the incubator at maximum capacity and a lengthy waiting list — businesses are allowed to use the building for 3-5 years — the time was right for an expansion. The new “innovation campus” will be located in a federally-designated Opportunity Zone as specified in President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a measure created to spur economic development in communities struggling to gain a foothold economically.
Senator Mike Rounds believes the incubator will be a boon to the city and help convince graduates to put down roots in western South Dakota once they receive their diplomas. “Rapid City is a growing community and is home to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where students graduate with the skills necessary to thrive in tech, science and engineering careers,” he says. “We want to keep these young people in our state, and the incubator can help them and others in the area start their own businesses.”
Another South Dakota senator, John Thune, echoes those sentiments. He calls the decision to invest in a new business incubator in Rapid City “another sign that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is working for middle-income Americans right here in our state.” Senator Thune says the incubator “is likely to spark economic growth in an area that has the potential to be a leader in technology manufacturing.” Like Senator Rounds, he cites the incubator’s proximity to the School of Mines, as well as Western Dakota Tech, as a strategic economic advantage for future growth in the region.
Ascent Innovation’s current incubator has been a solid success story. Since its inception, more than 30 companies have been admitted and over 400 jobs have been created. In addition to housing startup and new-to-the-area companies, it provides a wide range of business development and support services, including mentoring, business consulting, and packaging and shipping.