One of the driving forces in the growth of Sioux Falls has been the creation of the Sioux Empire Development Parks. Beginning in the early 1970s, the development of available sites for expanding and relocating companies has been a strategy for success. Now that the Sioux Empire Development Parks total 2,171 acres and are home to 140 businesses with over 12,000 employees, it is easy to forget the step-by-step process of growth and development necessary to make those parks such a vital factor in the Sioux Falls area economy.
We’re in the early stages of that process with Foundation Park, the largest and most complex Sioux Falls industrial park project in our state’s history. Just to get to the stage where we could sell sites required grading and reshaping 150 acres of rolling Dakota farm and pasture land—including the roadbeds for the preliminary streets!
In addition to those street, making build-ready sites requires utilities—city water and sewer services, electric, gas and telecom, and in the case of Foundation Park, railroad connectivity. That means a lot of players, a lot of money and, especially, a lot of time to get sites ready for new buildings.
Happily, the announcement of Win Chill’s $40 million frozen food distribution center to be built in Foundation Park gives us the opportunity to fast-track much of the infrastructure build-out. But even with city, state and railroad commitments to move rapidly on this project, it will be months before significant changes are visible to drivers on I-29.
Contrary to what you may have heard, getting a development park ready for new companies and building projects, let alone filling a development park, takes years. Finding the right first tenant is a vital step, initiating a cascade of action. But just as with the steps required with Sioux Empire Development Park I over 45 years ago, the process of getting a building operational in a new industrial park is a process.
Foundation Park is now well on its way, with Marion Road paving soon to begin, utility work and railroad service underway. These steps are the reality of park development—what it really takes to fill a development park.
By Slater Barr
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