MN IT Firm Aims to Add 1,000 Jobs in South Dakota

Eagle Creek Software Services has also partnered with the University of South Dakota to develop a degree program, which is meant to prepare workers for employment as an IT consultant.

An Eden Prairie-based IT services company said Wednesday that it plans to add 1,000 new jobs in South Dakota over the course of three to five years—and it’s starting by hiring 200 workers at a new $10 million technology center.

Eagle Creek Software Services, which bills itself as the largest U.S.-based onshore software services company, said the facility will be built in Vermillion, South Dakota, and is expected to open next year.

Eagle Creek selected Vermillion for its initial growth in part because it is home to the University of South Dakota. The company recently partnered with the university to launch the Information Technology Consultant Academy, a new program designed to provide eligible students with a scholarship and a strategic career track to employment as an IT consultant.

Eagle Creek is collaborating with the school on the development of a curriculum, and it hopes that graduates will apply for positions at the company. The program will provide broad technology education, however, and is not designed solely to prepare students for work at Eagle Creek, company spokesman Tyler Pearson said Thursday.

Graduates of the academy’s undergraduate program are expected to earn starting salaries of between $40,000 and $45,000, while students who earn a master’s degree are likely to initially earn between $50,000 and $60,000, the company said.

In addition to the 200 jobs at the new Vermillion technology center, Eagle Creek plans to add 800 additional jobs as it expands and opens new technology centers throughout South Dakota.

“Foreign, or offshore, IT solutions are not adequately filling the needs of the U.S. market,” Eagle Creek President Ken Behrendt said in a statement. “By better educating our workforce, Eagle Creek Software Services can create a more sustainable and scalable IT solution while growing jobs in America.”

The addition of 1,000 employees would be a significant feat, as Eagle Creek currently employs only about 300. It has about 40 employees at its Eden Prairie headquarters, most of whom are on the company’s executive staff.

But Eagle Creek is confident in its expansion plans, and it intends to build on an existing relationship with the State of South Dakota, which it began several years ago upon opening a Pierre facility, according to Pearson. In addition, community organizations are assisting the company with its expansion; for example, the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce has led efforts to support expanded housing in the area to accommodate Eagle Creek’s growing work force, he said.

In addition, the company won’t need to finance construction of its new Vermillion facility: It will lease space in a building constructed by the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company, according to a report by Sioux Falls newspaper The Argus Leader.

“This is a great day for South Dakota and the resurgent technology business in America,” South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard said in a statement. “With a $10 million investment in the Vermillion community and new career path for University of South Dakota students, we are on track to create meaningful jobs that will benefit the community and make South Dakota more globally competitive in the information technology sector.”

Pearson declined to name Eagle Creek’s clients but said they span multiple industries, including health care and insurance.