Howard, SD—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today applauded the work being done to promote rural economic development during a speech at the grand opening of a conference and training center at the Rural Learning Center. Johnson, a long-time supporter of the Rural Learning Center, secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal earmarks to help get the project off the ground. The addition recently completed was financed through a $3.2 million loan from the economic recovery package.
“This new expansion at the Rural Learning Center is a great example of growth and progress that can come from collaboration between the private and public sectors,” said Johnson, who strongly supported the Recovery Act. “I am glad that I can be a part of the grand opening of the next phase of the Rural Learning Center and will continue to work to support this and other economic development projects in rural South Dakota.”
In the early stages of the Rural Learning Center in 2003, Johnson helped secure a $450,000 earmark for construction. Johnson secured an additional earmark in 2005 to support the project.
The Rural Learning Center’s new conference and training center, which includes a hotel and full-service restaurant, will be used for many purposes, including business conferences, community education and a wind energy program for the Mitchell Technical Institute.
The facility has been rated Platinum, the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED measures a building’s sustainability with a variety of factors, including the amount of energy and water needed to operate, the types of materials used in construction and operation, and the indoor air quality. The addition, much of which was constructed by local businesses and contractors, includes rooftop solar panels, a wind turbine and a geothermal heat system to meet some of its energy needs.
Johnson was joined at the event by Randy Parry, Retiring Executive Director, RLC; Joe Bartmann, Executive Director, RLC; Mary Stangohr, Chair, Miner County Development Corporation; Mads Andenas, Chair, RLC Board of Directors; Dallas Tonsager, USDA Undersecretary; Andrew Dold, Howard Mayor; Jerry Nachtigal, Senior Vice President, Citibank and Mike Messier, Vice President of Training, Airstreams Renewable.
Today’s grand opening part of a series of events Johnson is holding across South Dakota during the Congressional District Work Period. Johnson is scheduled to visit many communities, including Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Dakota Dunes, Vermillion, Pierre, Ft. Pierre, Huron and Cheyenne River.