Development continues at former STAR Academy

CUSTER S.D. — About a year and a half after the sale of STAR Academy south of Custer, community leaders continue to make progress on the site. Now,they’re looking to use the space to empower and redefine the community.

The former STAR Academy was a tuberculosis hospital, then it became a juvenile corrections facility. Early last year, the state sold it for $2.3 million to Jared Carson and his partners.

They named it the Sustainable Light Industrial Campus and Energy (SLICe).

Come down visit, walk around, it’s an open site,” said Jared Carson, the CEO of SLICe. “There’s nothing secret, there’s nothing hidden.”

The SLICe is already home to several business. There’s several art galleries, there’s a manufacturing plant, and there’s even a barbecue restaurant. Carson said the campus has endless possibilities for business development from a full stage to a professional kitchen.

Though Carson faces challenges like completely overhauling the aged pipes and electric lines, he also sees potential in the facility which is greater than money.

“My goal is to create an environment in which the people which have the dream and the drive and the wherewithal to create those powerhouses that are already here that don’t have space or don’t have support can do that.”

One of Custer’s greatest challenges Carson said, is finding space for business development. Carson says Custer has the potential to be connected to the world economy through new modalities of communication and transportation.

“This facility more than any others here give people that opportunity and that varied opportunity.”

And as development and renovation at the SLICe continues, Carson said they’re still looking for a central partner for the site, which he compares to an anchor store at a shopping mall.

He says it’s an important choice, because it can come to define the community.

“Because we are local and we do care, we’ve been pretty picky with who we talk to how far we get with people and that sort of deal. We want the right partners.”

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