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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests in Wind Energy in South Dakota

Training Expands Access to Native American Students

WASHINGTON - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced a $1.167 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI) of Mitchell, S.D., to acquire a wind turbine to train and certify wind technicians through the Institute's Wind Technology Training program. The project creates a new wind partnership model that will benefit from economies of scale, private industry expertise, and unique Tribal education relationships.

"This project is about more than just building much needed wind generation plants in South Dakota - it is about creating jobs and increasing training and opportunities in the community," Locke said. "EDA's investment in the Mitchell Technical Institute will help promote a clean energy economy, create jobs, support innovation and keep the region competitive."

"I am pleased that the Economic Development Administration closely examined and recognized the merit of investing in this project. This is a perfect example of the kind of private/state/federal partnership that will allow us to grow our renewable energy economy here in South Dakota," said U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. "Ownership of this turbine is critical to the viability and the future of MTI's Wind Turbine Technology program, as it will give students access to hands-on training as part of their curriculum is an experience that cannot be replicated on training modules. It will also ensure that South Dakota wind energy producers will have the capacity to serve our state's growing wind industry, and that MTI graduates will be well-prepared for employment in the high-paying renewable energy sector."

"Collaboration and cooperation among diverse partners has allowed us to bring this project to this point. The expertise of a company like Basin Electric, the inclusion of a Tribal educational partner like Sinte Gleska University, and the support of many other individuals and groups will make this project a unique model for wind training. We know that training the next generation of utilities technicians for the wind industry will help create high paying professional jobs and much needed economic development opportunities, especially for underserved and economically depressed areas of our region," said Greg Von Wald, President of Mitchell Technical Institute. The training program will enroll 50 MTI students each year, including an average of 10 Native American students being trained at Sinte Gleska University in Mission, S.D. The training facility will be co-located with a 108-unit wind farm being built by Basin Electric. This grant is funded under EDA's Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund, which aims to strengthen the connection between economic development and environmental quality by supporting projects that advance a green economy in distressed communities.

Last week, the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, released its interagency report outlining recommendations to President Obama for how federal agency policies and programs can better prepare the United States to respond to the impacts of climate change. A key goal is to build strong partnerships in support of local, state, and tribal decision makers to improve management of the places and infrastructure most likely to be affected by climate change.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov):
This year, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) marks 45 years of public service, with a mission of leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that partners with distressed communities throughout the United States to foster job creation, collaboration and innovation.