Company to build new plant in Howard

HOWARD -- A wind blade repair and manufacturing company has plans to build a 26,000-square-foot plant in Howard and may bring with it more than 40 jobs.

HOWARD -- A wind blade repair and manufacturing company has plans to build a 26,000-square-foot plant in Howard and may bring with it more than 40 jobs.

Knight & Carver Wind Blade Division is expected to employ 10-25 full-time employees in 2007 and is projected to employ 46 people within three years.

"The idea that this project has become a reality is very exciting," said Mike Knutson, economic development coordinator for Miner County Community Revitalization. "It promises to help us attain our mission of creating quality, living-wage jobs from renewable energy sources that will benefit our citizens for years to come. We see this as a perfect fit for our community."

Headquartered in San Diego with a workforce of 150 employees, Knight & Carver specializes in the construction and repair of wind-turbine blades. Since its founding in 1972, Knight & Carver has specialized in the building of custom yachts and repair of large-scale vessels. The company's Wind Blade Division was formed in 1997.

Nine years later, enough demand exists for the repair and delivery of turbines in the Midwest that a new facility, closer to Knight & Carver's customers, is required, said Communications Director John Freeman.


"Whatever profit there might have been was lost in transit (to California)," he said.

The Knight & Carver project is the latest step in Howard's effort to create jobs through wind energy. Several years ago, two wind turbine generators were installed in the Howard Industrial Park with the goal of attracting wind-energy firms to the region. That happened when Knutson worked with Knight & Carver to bring a satellite facility to the community.

"We have a lot of customers in Minnesota and Iowa so we thought we should have a facility in that area," said Gary Kanaby, manager of the Knight & Carver Wind Blade Division. "I got talked into it. Those guys in Howard are very aggressive. They made us some proposals that we couldn't beat."

Howard's wind energy park is dedicated to developing the area's wind-energy potential, Knutson said.

"We already have one wind energy company here, Energy Maintenance Service," said Knutson. "They focus on wind generator repair. We anticipate being in the same industrial park will create a stronger business relationship between the two."

Other Midwestern states were considered for the new facility, but South Dakota's location tipped the scales in the end.

"Idaho, they made a terrific offer, too, but South Dakota offers incentives and also a central location," Freeman said.

The signing of the contract, Freeman said, marks the end of a six-month process to bring the company to Howard.


"This is a significant step forward for our company," Kanaby said. "We're confident that South Dakota's workforce and business climate will allow us to provide better service at a lower cost to our current and future customers."

With economic incentives provided by the state, Miner County Community Revitalization and Heartland Consumer Power District, Knight & Carver Wind Blade will lease and operate the new wind blade repair and manufacturing facility. Under terms of a five-year lease, Knight & Carver will have an opportunity to purchase the facility and expand.

Groundbreaking is expected within the next several weeks, with full-scale blade production scheduled to begin in November.

When completed, Knight & Carver's 75-foot by 220-foot main manufacturing bay will be equipped with an overhead crane and will serve as an all-weather production facility. In addition, the building will offer space for the storage and preparation of materials to fabricate blades, a garage to house the company's service vehicles and a full-service paint booth, large enough to paint wind blades. The facility also will be used as Knight & Carver's Midwest regional repair facility.

"Knight & Carver represents a great addition to our business community. It will build on the city of Howard's efforts to create jobs through wind energy -- an industry where South Dakota has great potential," Gov. Mike Rounds said.

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