Tech companies pave way for possibility of ‘Silicon Prairie’
RAPID CITY, S.D.— Governor Kristi Noem was among dignitaries scooting into Rapid City for a groundbreaking on Thursday.
The company, Property Meld, is a growing member of the city’s tech sector.
Born five years ago, Property Meld has created software that coordinates maintenance work for rental property rental. The company has around 600 clients in the U.S. and Canada and is rapidly growing. For founder Ray Hespen who attended Mines, it was about providing job opportunities for people wanting to leave the big city .
“I think if anything, the pandemic showed us that,” said Hespen. “Rapid City’s always been a place where people want to live, so we just had to create the opportunity that says lets create a place to work in the place you want to live. And so for us, this made a lot of sense because we’re just aligning wants and needs.”
The new building will be two-stories, about 14,000 square feet, and will feature occupancy for 300, multiple conference rooms, lounges, a café, open collaborative spaces, and an expansive rooftop patio. Governor Kristi Noem believes this will be an successful example to other tech companies looking to move to smaller communities.
“On the east side of the state we have cyber security presence, and a lot of companies that are investing in that space,” said Noem. “Here in Rapid City, the technology companies are really finding that this is a special place to be, and this can be the Silicon Prairie.”
Between growth at Ellsworth Air Force Base and Box Elder, community leaders believe Rapid City could see an increase of between 25 and 40-thousand people in the next 10 years.
“It’s gonna be a lot of growth, a lot of jobs, a lot of jobs that hopefully pay well, lift people out of poverty,” said Elevate Rapid City CEO, Tom Johnson. “It also comes with challenges like housing, but we’re gonna try to address those things, and hopefully get the good, and we can keep away the bad.”
The company currently employs around 50 people, and plans to expand to a base of 200 in the next 5 years. The hopes are to provide opportunities for local university students as well.