RAPID CITY, S.D. – Despite a quiet start to the year, Rapid City raked in tons of new opportunity for economic growth in 2021.
February saw the return of live events again, such as the Black Hills Stock Show and Rapid City Rodeo, with record-breaking livestock sales nearing $2 million.
May 4 was Black Hills and Badlands Travel Rally Day. As attractions reopened along with cabins and hotels filling up, excitement was bubbling for travel and tourism.
On June 9, news broke that Ellsworth Air Force Base was officially chosen as the first home of the B-21 Raider Bomber. An announcement was also made about the arrival of hundreds of new jobs bringing opportunities in the home-building market and auxiliary positions, with local businesses to see indirect growth as well. The bomber is also slated to bring a nearly $24 million economic activity boost to the area.
In the late summer, Elevate Rapid City brought new tech opportunities with the announcement of a battery manufacturing plant for the area, creating the potential for over 1,000 new jobs. October soon followed with the David Lust Accelerated Building officially opening, centered around bringing local start-ups to life and into the community to create more growth.
“Having a place for entrepreneurs to monetize and create jobs out of the intellectual property that’s coming out of the School of Mines is really important. We have a world-class university here. The students that graduate from here go to places like Google, Microsoft, and Garmin,” President and CEO of Elevate Rapid City Tom Johnson explained.” The more of those we can keep here, we can keep that intellectual property here, we can spin it off into individual companies like Property Meld. The better we’re going to be.”
The month also included news of ownership change and new plans for the previously named Rushmore Mall, which is now called Uptown Rapid. Increases in gaming revenue for Deadwood post sports betting legalization and a 20 percent increase in tourism over the summer months were also announced.
In Belle Fourche, California company Albany Farms announced plans to build a ramen production facility, bringing 900 jobs in tow.
The long awaited Summit Arena was slated for an October opening but it was pushed to November due to event cancellations. However, The Monument sold over $30,000 worth of tickets for their first string of concerts.
As for the new year, Johnson says new opportunities are on the way. About five to six businesses have expressed interest in coming to the DLAB, placing the building close to capacity within six months. Should everything go as he says, plans on a second start-up lab at the lot next door could follow.
“We’re trying to make sure that we grow in a way that’s commensurate with our culture and our quality of life here,” Johnson said. “We’re not trying to grow too fast, but we’re also trying to grow just enough that we give a chance for the young kids who’ve gone and left to come back or those that want to stay to remain here and keep working here.”