Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Tuesday that he believes South Dakota can attract airplane manufacturers to the Black Hills by leveraging Ellsworth Air Force Base and changing the state's liability law.
"I've become aware that there is an increasing interest by the Air Force in attracting private industry that could complement their military mission, especially in those bases where there is underutilized space," Daugaard said after giving his first State of the State speech. "The Air Force sees an opportunity to make use of that space by renting it to private enterprise, even within the base perimeter."
To try to attract those companies, Daugaard said he wants to change South Dakota law to give airplane manufacturers protection from liability if a part malfunctions more than 10 years after it's made - a change based on a law in Kansas, which has a major airplane manufacturing industry.
Daugaard will propose a bill this legislative session to change that liability law.
Daugaard said he has had conversations with some businesses building manufacturing facilities near Ellsworth.
Sen. Bruce Rampelberg, R-Rapid City, a former chairman of the Ellsworth Development Authority, praised Daugaard's proposal.
"I feel that he's right on track there," Rampelberg said. "I think there are numerous opportunities out there for different companies that would be interested in the length and the condition of the runway, the location of it, and to be able to work side by side with a military installation like the Air Force."