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The results of a $2-billion impact on the South Dakota economy translates to significant income for businesses and contractors across the state.
Mike Ray

The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) will create 1200 jobs and have a net economic impact of nearly $2 billion dollars this decade in the state of South Dakota.

The results of a $2-billion impact on the South Dakota economy can be difficult to conceptualize—but it translates to significant income for businesses and contractors across the state who work with SURF each day to help accomplish the mission of advancing world class science and inspiring learning across generations.

“Scientific research is an important industry in our state. The current and future research at SURF requires a huge amount of infrastructure support. It includes business contracts across the state, from engineering firms and construction companies to local hardware stores and all kinds of small businesses,” said Mike Headley executive director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and laboratory director at SURF.

Success at SURF includes small businesses like Jacobs Welding and Machining in Lead. “They are like an extension of the shops we have on site here. They are so important to our success,” said Al Stratman, the engineering director at SURF. “We use them for so many things. When we have special machining or welding that is sometimes needed on short notice to repair a broken part, Jacobs is always there.”

The complexity of building and maintaining everything at SURF, from legacy mining equipment to concrete and road work to cutting edge scientific equipment requires help from many outside experts. This means SURF contracts with a wide range of businesses from local plumbing, electrical, and construction companies to specialty machine shops that can complete high-end manufacturing of parts inside sensitive scientific instruments.

For SURF engineers like Charles Maupin, doing business with local firms is often about meeting a critical need with a trusted partner. “We always look for good value on any job,” Maupin said. “But when we need a job done on deadline, if you ship it somewhere else, you’re looking at a lot of lost time and shipping costs. Working with local vendors often saves us money in the long run while providing quality benefits like quick response time and local follow-up service.”

Dakota Equipment Rental in Spearfish is one example of many that help SURF achieve its mission. “They have been so valuable. If we have a piece of equipment break down, and we need to complete the job on deadline, they have a replacement for us usually within the hour,” said Jake Davis, deputy director of surface operations and utilities at SURF.

SURF doesn’t only rely on businesses in the western part of the state, Dakota Riggers and Tool Supply in Sioux Falls is an example of the many businesses from eastern South Dakota that have contracted with SURF. They provided specialty rigging supplies and help in lowering equipment down the one-mile-deep shafts. “Rigging and equipment expertise from Dakota Riggers has been really important when lowering large, scientific equipment down the shaft to the 4850 level,” said Maupin.

The businesses named above are just three of hundreds of contracts SURF has developed with South Dakota based companies. “We are always looking to expand the businesses we work with. We would like more businesses to bid for the contract opportunities at SURF,” said Stratman.

Businesses interested in current requests for proposals or bids can find them on the SURF website.