South Dakota moving up in the tech world

The School of Mines helps create tech jobs.
The School of Mines helps create tech jobs.(Madison Newman)
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 7:28 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota ranks near the bottom on the list of the most-innovative states in research and development, according to a study by the personal-finance website WalletHub.

The Mount Rushmore state ranks 45 when it comes to creating tech-based jobs. One large stumbling block to gaining ground? Finding people to fill the roles. Now, South Dakota Mines is trying to change that.

“The real challenge is trying to create jobs that our kids will want to stay for. And those are tech-based. Those are technology-based jobs to develop opportunities. Whether its us creating start-up companies out of the School of Mines, or whether its us training the next generation of engineers and scientists that will be part of that ecosystem, that’s our responsibility,” said Joseph Wright, associate vice president for research and economic development.

Wyoming native Ray Hespen graduated from Mines in 2009 and left the state to work in the technology field. In 2017 he came back and started his own tech company, Property Meld. He says that Rapid City has come a long way in tech-based companies since he’s been back.

“We’re starting to see a lot more of an ecosystem here of technology companies, and people try and really push to make technology companies happen,” Hespen continued.

Mines has the fastest-growing tech center in the Black Hills, including work in startup companies and non technology fields such as mining and agriculture; all of which will help expand the downtown innovation district.