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Discovery District Groundbreaking Celebrates Partnerships and Possibilities

USD Discovery District–a destination to live, work and play

Photo of President Abbott, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and others with shovels at groundbreaking. The USD Discovery District is an 80-acre contemporary corporate and academic research park under development in Sioux Falls.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The USD Discovery District, an 80-acre contemporary corporate and academic research park under development in Sioux Falls, held a public groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the launch of South Dakota’s first innovation community and the public-private partnerships that have made the historic project a reality.

“Great universities do three basic things each and every day. We teach, we foster research and we provide service to our state, region and students," said USD President James W. Abbott. "Extraordinary universities, they help drive the state's economy and that's really what we're here for today.”

The USD Discovery District is the result private-public partnerships between the University of South Dakota, the Board of Regents, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Forward Sioux Falls and the City of Sioux Falls.

“The concept for the USD Discovery District began more than 20 years ago, with leaders in business and education coming together to set a strategy on growing technology-based business in South Dakota,” said Rich Naser, Jr. President of the USD Discovery District. “Through studies, planning and collaboration and investment of these partners this concept evolved to a vision and today has become a reality.”

Governor George S. Mickelson, Sioux Falls business leaders and the University of South Dakota first proposed developing a university-related research park. Forward Sioux Falls revived that concept in 2000. In 2006, the Board of Regents through a gift from the Great Plains Education Foundation to establish the University Center acquired 252 acres. In 2009, the South Dakota legislature enacted legislation authorizing the establishment of an 80-acre research park at University Center in Sioux Falls. The University of South Dakota Research Park corporation was formed in 2012 after the legislature passed, and Governor Daugaard signed to authorize research parks on lands controlled by the South Dakota Board of Regents.

The Discovery District projects a +/-25-year development horizon with facility construction value exceeding $314 million. At full build out, the direct economic impact is projected to include 26 privately developed buildings with facility construction value exceeding $314M and nearly 2,800 people employed by companies located in the District.

“It’s exciting to see our vision taking shape,” added Naser. “We are essentially now ‘open for business’ and things are moving quickly. The District is in the process of seeking a development partner for the first building and reviewing hotel proposals.”

The first anticipated building, a +/- 25,000 square foot multi-tenant research facility, to be completed by October 1, 2018.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News