Community Engagement

Heartland teams up with engineering firm to offer planning services

Heartland Consumers Power District is expanding its economic development offerings by teaming up with an engineering firm to offer municipal planning services to the communities the public power utility serves.

Heartland’s customers include 29 municipal electric systems in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Besides supplying electricity to the municipalities, Heartland, based in Madison, South Dakota, has a range of economic development programs, including loans, incentives and grants.

Through a new partnership with ISG, an architecture and engineering company, Heartland’s customers can take advantage of cost-effective municipal capital improvement planning and development park master planning.

Most of the towns have less than 3,000 residents and municipal staff that wear a lot of hats within their organizations, according to Casey Crabtree, Heartland’s director of economic development and governmental affairs.

The services provided by ISG will allow the towns to develop long-range plans, a complex and time-consuming process, Crabtree said, noting that the communities may not have the staff to draft the plans on their own.

The services will allow the communities to develop plans to bolster their economies instead of responding to issues as they crop up, according to Crabtree.

Ultimately, improved planning will make the communities more financially secure, Crabtree said.

Areas that can be addressed through capital improvement planning include equipment and technology, such as vehicles, computers or software, according to Heartland. Other areas include upgrades to public facilities and infrastructure as well as 10-year electric system studies.

Working with ISG, the cities can make sure their capital improvement schedules, financial plans and other planning efforts mesh together, according to Heartland.

ISG can also help the communities set up development parks to bring new businesses to their areas.

Besides helping municipalities craft development parks, ISG can help build marketing packages to make the parks stand out from competing options that may be available to businesses and developers, Crabtree said.

As an example, Heartland and ISG helped Colman, South Dakota, develop the 100-acre Hillcrest Industrial Park, which was unveiled in October.

The park was certified as a “ready site” by the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The designation indicates commercial and industrial sites are ready to be developed, which reduces the risks for project developers.

Cities can use Heartland’s economic development grant program to help cover the cost of working with ISG to develop capital improvement plans and development park master plans. ISG can work with cities in other ways, depending on their needs, according to Heartland.