Business center expanding from campus to downtown Rapid City

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RAPID CITY, S.D. — A business development center that was launched more than a decade ago on the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology campus in Rapid City is coming out of the shadows.

Ascent Innovation Center, which opened in a remote corner of the campus in 2006, has outgrown its space and is poised to expand to a more visible location in the city’s downtown, the Rapid City Journal reports .

“This (building) has been successful,” Ascent Innovation executive director Terri Haverly said of the campus center. “But people need to see us.”

Construction on the $12 million business incubator could begin this summer, once plans for the 40,000-square-foot center are approved the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of the Economic Development Administration grant process. A recent $3 million federal grant has put the new center in range of being fully funded.

The architect of the project is Madison, Wisconsin-based Strang, Inc., which specializes in design of innovation centers and research parks. Haverly said officials are sensitive about using locally based companies for the project and about 60 percent of contractors and subcontractors will come from the Rapid City and Black Hills area.

“Not that the people here couldn’t do it, but his is their niche,” Haverly said of the Madison company.

The current center on campus is at capacity with 21 companies renting space and others on a waiting list. It houses 120 employees along with Ascent staff and about 50 paid interns from the School of Mines and other colleges and technical colleges who work during the school year.

Companies on the waiting list will be given priority for space in the new building, slated for completion in late 2020.

“When people see this building, it’s going to be like, OK, there’s something going on in there,” Haverly said.

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