Bill to spend $15M on biomedical facility in Sioux Falls earns OK from House committee

A new biomedical facility at USD Discovery District, which has already secured $10 million in other funds, would develop new cancer diagnostics, therapies, and build on gains in artificial intelligence.

FSA South Dakota capitol

PIERRE, S.D. — Former University of South Dakota President Jim Abbott said that visiting out-of-state university officials once assumed building a leading research park in Sioux Falls couldn't be done.

Twenty years later, after fits and starts creating the USD Discovery District in northern Sioux Falls, the group's interim president says a $25 million biomedical facility to help develop technologies to fight cancer is the campaign's latest goal.

"The second best time to do something like this is to do it now," Abbott told the House state affairs committee Wednesday morning, Feb. 16. "We believe the USD Discovery District will provide significant economic opportunity for our state."

Abbott was joined by other university officials and Sioux Falls boosters calling for support of House Bill 1210, which would tag $15 million from the state's general fund to go to the Board of Regents in order to design and build a new facility on the research park's grounds south of the intersection of I-29 and I-90. The project has already secured $10 million in other funds.

The facility is expected to house tenants seeking laboratories to develop new cancer-fighting technologies. University officials spoke only generally of interested parties but said they expected the research to include medical devices designed to better detect breast cancer diagnosis to the use of artificial intelligence.


"We have a whole host of companies that are interested," said Dr. Dan Engebretson, vice president for research at USD.

There was no opponent testimony.

Rep. Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, recommended moving the bill to House Appropriations committee with a "do pass" recommendation. The motion was approved unanimously by the committee.

"I think it's a good project," said Gosch. "Appropriations is the appropriate place to put it, as we task them with finding all the money."

Christopher Vondracek is the South Dakota correspondent for Forum News Service. Contact Vondracek at , or follow him on Twitter: @ChrisVondracek .

The state's biggest political leaders have touted inbound migration, so-called "blue state refugees" who flooded South Dakota. But the biggest driver of partisan races this coming summer and fall appears to be a redistricting process, log-jamming Republicans in primaries and opening up new turf for Democrats.

Christopher Vondracek covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVondracek.
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