Integra Plastics announces expansion in Madison


Integra owner Mick Green, LAIC Executive Director Julie Gross and Integra CFO Virg Garbers. Photo courtesy

Integra owner Mick Green, LAIC Executive Director Julie Gross and Integra CFO Virg Garbers. Photo courtesy

Integra Plastics, Inc. announced Friday at the Lake Area Improvement Corporation’s annual meeting that it will be expanding its Madison plant later this spring, with hopes of being fully operational by fall of this year.

“I am pleased Integra Plastics, Inc. chose to expand in South Dakota,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Integra’s decision to grow its facility will bring business and tax dollars to South Dakota; importantly, it will also create more jobs for South Dakotans.”

According to LAIC Executive Director Julie Gross, Integra is planning to build across the road from its current facility in the Lakeview Industrial Park in Madison. Integra has been in Madison for more than 20 years and has been a longtime supporter of local economic development.

“Our company prides itself in providing our customers with superior products and quality customer service. Our decision to expand our Madison facility will only make that easier to do,” said Integra Chief Financial Officer Virg Garbers.

In 2009, HCPD presented Integra officials with an electric rebate for an expansion on its Madison facility.

In 2009, HCPD presented Integra officials with an electric rebate for an expansion on its Madison facility.

This latest expansion is not the first for Integra in recent years. In 2009, Integra qualified for a $16,000 electric rebate for the addition of four full-time employees and 20,000 square feet to its plant.

Integra Plastics, Inc. provides installation services, technical assistance and mechanical expertise along with its core business of fabrication and conversion capabilities. The company specializes in manufacturing specialty polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC sheeting. For more information, visit

Featured image courtesy

LAIC announces new Executive Director

The Lake Area Improvement Corporation in Madison announced today they have hired Julie Gross to serve as their new Executive Director.

Julie Gross addresses members of the Madison Chamber of Commerce during the Chamber’s 2012 Annual Meeting.

Gross currently serves as the Executive Director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce and will transition into her new role over the next few weeks.

“We are very excited about Julie accepting this important role within the Madison community,” said LAIC President Mark Stoller. “The LAIC board, along with community members, interviewed several candidates and put a great deal of time and energy into the interview process. We feel we have chosen the right person to promote our community and continue the efforts of the LAIC.”

“Julie is a lifelong Lake County native and has deep ties to the community. She has successfully led the Chamber where she developed new programs, enhanced existing programs and made a positive impact on the community. We are excited to have her on board.”

Mike McDowell featured in Prairie Business Magazine

An article about economic development written by Heartland General Manager Mike McDowell was featured in the January issue of Prairie Business Magazine. The article, “General observations of rural economic development,” can be found on Prairie Business Magazine’s website or read in its entirety below.


General Observations of rural economic development

Economic development efforts in rural communities are not a ‘one size fits all’ process.

What works and is appropriate depends on a number of factors unique to each community. I serve on the governing board of the local development agency for Madison and the surrounding area known generally as the Lakes Area. As is common, this agency is a private/public partnership to support creation and expansion of jobs and wealth. Much of the support for these agencies, including the one I have volunteered to serve, comes from private donations from local businesses and individuals. For example, in addition to our support of Madison, Heartland provides support for similar efforts in all of the communities we serve in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.

There are a number of factors that impact local development efforts. These factors include, but are not limited to: 1) proximity to an urban area; 2) location on or near an Interstate or other multilane highway; 3) adequate water, sewer, and energy infrastructure; 4) educational facilities, including a university or college; 5) housing choices for employees of new or expanding local businesses; 6) public access to recreational facilities such as parks, hiking trails, and community centers for all ages; 8) broad band communication technology infrastructure; and 9) cultural and retail amenities commensurate with all of the above. Many of these factors require local commitment and support if they are to be useful tools for development.

Omitted from the above list are various incentives offered nearly everywhere as recruitment and/or expansion tools used by local development agencies. These incentives are a necessary part of the local development tool box in order to compete with surrounding communities and states with similar incentives. However, without the existence of the quality of life factors listed above these incentives have a limited impact.

The 800 pound gorilla in every community is the performance of the national economy. Although each community will have its own specific impacts, a faltering national economy leaves no place immune from its effects.

The local Madison/Lakes Area development agency is coming to the end of its first five year funding program aimed at creation of jobs and wealth. The collapse of the national economy in late 2007 was a major contributing factor in moving some of our goals beyond reach. We did some things well, some things not so well, and missed on some things that needed attention. Our recent efforts assisting the expansion of four local businesses and one new business resulted in adding 100 new jobs in the past year. On the other hand, growth of the total local job numbers from five years ago did not occur. Although we pursued new retail growth in lodging, clothing, and restaurant business, that also did not occur. The core area of Madison has declined in recent years and we intend to address that decline in the next five year program.

We spent a good deal of time last fall seeking out business and community leaders’ views as well as their suggestions for the next five years. The results of those conversations are being assimilated and a second five year funding effort will begin in early 2012 based on revised goals and objectives coming from those conversations.

Local development agencies earn and keep support and trust by building on successes and learning from failures, as well as demonstrating a willingness to revise goals and objectives based on feedback from community and business leaders. It is often easier said than done to seek this feedback and then act on it, but a commitment to improved quality of life and broad based creation of wealth trumps ease. Economic development is often two steps forward and one step back. The key is to keep moving.

by Mike McDowell, General Manager and CEO of Heartland Consumers Power District.