No longer stuck in cement

South Dakota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2001  | May 2001 issue

South Dakota is getting out of the cement business. Rapid City's Dacotah Cement, the nation's only state-owned cement business, has been sold to a Mexican firm, Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC) for $252 million, in a deal pushed by Gov. Bill Janklow and approved in a special legislative session.

Janklow persuaded lawmakers that the state could make more money by investing the $252 million than it could by staying in the highly competitive cement industry. Moreover, GCC has agreed to pay the state $3 million a year in state and local taxes and made assurances that it will neither lay off the factory's 221 workers nor sell the 12,000 acres of Black Hills land that come with the cement plant.

The sale was controversial, however, especially because it was rushed through the Legislature months after several lawmakers were assured by the governor's staff that no such deal was in the works.

—Douglas Clement