ABERDEEN, SD (Dakota News Now) – Northern State University is aiming to bring more tech entrepreneurship to northeast South Dakota. The first step in accomplishing this goal was the opening of the Innovation and Startup Center on campus.
The project has been in the works for eighteen months. NSU partnered with the Aberdeen Development Corporation and the Center for Rural Innovation to assess the needs in the community.
“Aberdeen is really into business. The gap we are missing is the technological piece. Interestingly, technology is everywhere, it is in everything. “Technology is in agriculture, it’s in hospitals, it’s in banks, it’s in education, and that’s what we’re missing and that’s really going to help diversify our economy and create better jobs for our young people,” said Hannah Walters, NSU marketing professor. . . .
The total cost of the project was $1.5 million, and CORI helped North State secure a $750,000 grant from the Construction Economic Development Authority to scale. The other half of the project cost comes from local matching. Recently, NSU received a $100,000 grant from the Aberdeen Knight Foundation as part of this local match.
The center offers resources such as workshops, programs and camps to help local entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.
“The idea is to create new jobs by taking people’s ideas and we can take them from the idea stage to actually being a real, active business and help people monetize their idea and then they can turn it into a private place. market and have a company that hires and employs people,” said Aberdeen Corporation CEO Mike Bokorny.
Staff at the Innovation and Startup Center will be available to assist these entrepreneurs in their process.
“The grant will actually hire a director, we’ll have some student workers, some graduate assistants, we’ll be working with ADC for some program coordination services as well. So aspiring entrepreneurs can come in at any stage of their business and we can help them transition. to help us move forward,” Walters said.
All workshops and programs are free and offered not only to NSU students, but to the entire Aberdeen community and surrounding areas.
“It’s not just for our students. This is entirely for members of the community in Aberdeen as well as in the region. So if people have ideas, they can bring those ideas to the Center, they can attend a workshop, they can attend a boot camp, and we can network them with others who have certain skills to help them continue working. that’s the next step,” Walters said.
Innovation hub and startup resources are also offered online to increase accessibility.
“Being able to access that information at three in the morning when you have a great idea, or at six or seven in the evening when you don’t want to go into the city and it’s snowing, it works very well for our region. And the opportunity will allow the Startup Center’s impact to reach far beyond Aberdeen and throughout the region,” said NSU Associate Erin Fouberg.
The overall goal is to promote startups, especially in technology, in a rural area.
“It allows us to continue our economic diversification in Northeast South Dakota by creating a digital ecosystem, which is tech jobs. It’s not a big focus, and it hasn’t been a big focus here in Northeast South Dakota. Now,” Bokorny said. .
The Innovation and Startup Center is temporarily located inside the Beulah Williams Library on the North State campus, but it will be permanently housed in a new building that will eventually replace Lincoln Hall.
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