Brookings, S.D. – Dig a little into the success of biotechnology in Brookings, S.D., and the statistics become more and more impressive.
The community of 23,000 is home to 17 bioscience companies. Another 25 companies are located within the Brookings commute area.
“It’s a lot of jobs,” said Kevin Kephart, vice president for research and economic development at SDSU and a member of the board of directors of SD Biotech. “They’re here in the community, they’re hiring people and really creating an economic engine.”
Brookings is the first stop on a multi-city tour called Breakthrough BIO, organization in recognition of the 10-year anniversary of South Dakota Biotech, the state’s industry association. Community and business leaders will gather Sept. 15 to learn more about the innovation occurring in Brookings and tour bioscience businesses.
“We’re accessing good markets,” Kephart said. “We’re making downstream impacts on important industries like the livestock industry and human health and adding to the value chain.”
The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation estimates there are 450 people in Brookings employed in key bioscience occupations. The city is projected to add 359 jobs in the sector by 2024 including soil and plant scientists, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians and biological technicians.
“This sort of economic impact is occurring because many factors have come together in Brookings, including community support for needed infrastructure and certainly workforce training,” said Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech.
South Dakota produces the sixth highest concentration of graduates with bioscience-related degrees in the country. South Dakota State University, based in Brookings, has graduated more than 3,300 students in five years in bioscience programs – accounting for nearly two-thirds of all such graduates in the state.
Equally encouraging, Kephart said, are partnerships with ties to Brookings that reach other parts of the state. Brookings-based research in veterinary and biomedical sciences, for instance, has led to collaboration with Sanford Health and the USD Gear Center in Sioux Falls.
“That’s made for a nice connection I have high hopes of strengthening,” he said.