South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions

Manufacturing is the #3 industry in South Dakota at about 5.2B GDP… and manufacturing is very important in South Dakota. Because of that we decided to survey about 30 companies, just a small cross-section… we discovered that they have about $80m in lost productivity that they attribute to talent, having to spend money on talent acquisition, time hiring people, and turnover issues that they’re having with the workforce. Those 30 companies also stated that they’re missing out on almost $450m in revenue and that’s just the 30 companies we surveyed.What we found in talking with those folks is that… they don’t have enough capacity to serve the customers that they have… they’re saying “sorry, we cannot supply you anymore.” That interest level really drove us to call John McElligott and his team to come to South Dakota and talk more about technology and where it is currently at and where it’s going. We wanted to create a bit more vision for South Dakota. We wanted to bring a visionary to South Dakota, somebody who could close their eyes a bit and get to know South Dakota and then present them with a vision. John did a great job. We brought him in and he did the keynote for an hour and people were amazed, some were a little terrified and scared afterwards because John would point out what was already here that they didn’t realize was here.

Following the summit we did a survey with all of our attendees to see what they liked, they didn’t like… and one the key things was that they were so thrilled to have John and we had the best feedback for just how great the keynote was and how excited they were coming out of the summit from that – and that was just in the days following the summit. But that feedback didn’t stop. People kept talking about John’s talk at our summit and also they talked about automation more and came to us for automation projects and sparked their interest on how do we work together on that in South Dakota… It’s really taken almost that kind of boulder affect where it’s kind of rolling down the hill and gaining momentum… I know for a fact that because of that keynote that John did at our summit, those conversations happened a lot quicker maybe than they would have just naturally.

If you are a manufacturing organization looking for someone to spark interest and excitement within the industry as a whole, but also the future of the industry, John’s your guy. I would say, not only just for automation and technology, but for where the industry can go and the possibilities of what’s to come, I think there’s just an overall excitement coming from that summit that we had out manufacturers jazzed about what’s to come and where it’s going.

John drives excitement at all levels -not just at the ownership level and return on investment level, but he drives a passion for manufacturing in South Dakota and in all industries as well. We had other folks there besides manufacturing: we had biotech industries – he was the buzz of South Dakota after he left us. If you are an organization just looking for someone to get you excited about the future where disruption needs to happen and getting people maybe almost afraid, but in a good way, I would say John’s your guy. He brings an excitement to everything he talks about within what’s to come with technology and integrating it into your organization no matter what it is – for manufacturing, to biotech, to really everything it seems to be – he got everyone excited at our event.

John talks about lots of different industries… he goes into airline industry, to agricultural, to medical industry – lots of different things. He does a great job of talking about things that are already here that we don’t know are here already so he brings an element of surprise to you and really drives interest in automation and technology.

Morgan Larkson, Business Advisor with South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions
Don Cooper, Center Director with South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions

NYSERNet Conference

This past October 2021, I had the distinct pleasure, and horror, of experiencing John McElligott’s keynote address titled “The Exponential Economy” during the annual NYSERNet Conference.

John’s intelligence and wit were abundantly clear, but his insights about the current and future interplay between technology and day-to-day life, especially as experienced and lived by today’s hyper-connected youth, were both exciting and chilling at the same time. The almost casual reliance of youth on technology, and more specifically virtual assistants, has implications for everything from marketing to interpersonal relationships, voting decisions and perhaps even future geopolitical decision making and stability. The power we’ve ceded to big-data companies is incomprehensible, though John did his best to make that clear.

While we cannot put the genie back into the bottle, with appropriate safeguards (and perhaps bans on AI), the future is also incredibly exciting. John’s storytelling, combined with descriptions of the future advancements coming for humanity itself, paint a compelling picture of the potential utopia to come – with appropriate safeguards. Without them, of course, get right with Jesus. In fact, you might just want to get right with Jesus right now.

What you don’t want to do is miss John McElligott’s next keynote. Don’t forget your towel, traveler.

David Nizen
Vice President

The conference went great and John’s talk was truly amazing! Will definitely keep him in mind as a repeat speaker since technology is moving at such a fast pace. It’d be great to have him back regularly for updates.

Hershey Creamery Company

My concerns for our future relationship with robotics align with John’s. When I met him and heard what he had to say, it was refreshing to hear from someone who not only shares those points of view, but also is actively working to do something about it. His approach for his business and his education system offers a vision for a path forward on how society can integrate automation with our lives instead of using automation to displace people. This also breathed some new life in me to continue to push for my own business and coworkers to think ahead as we constantly evaluate our automation capabilities. I truly enjoyed our session and hope others do, too!

Matt Ryan – Director, Operations and Capital Management at Hershey Creamery Company

Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc.

I recently was fortunate to hear John speak about the topic of “disruption” (with regards to technology) and how it is going to be affecting us in our lives. His passion on the topic was evident and his knowledge just as impressive. I also spent time with John 1:1 but if you get the chance, I recommend you attend a session or if you are fortunate enough, pick his brain 1:1.

Sam Statz – Vice President of Construction at Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc.


John’s thought provoking content about the pace of change, artificial intelligence and the need to embrace disruption wowed me at a Pennsylvania Economic Development Association conference and made me proud to introduce him at a national Utility Economic Development Association forum where he took the house down. He is young, energetic, well prepared and personable, super-intelligent and engaging, and on the cutting edge of innovation, a five-star addition to any line up! Highly recommended.

Maureen Sharkey – Senior Economic Development Specialist at PECO


John is a dynamic speaker who provided a thought provoking peek in to the future using trends and concepts that are on the cutting edge of becoming everyday reality. If your organization or region is going through change or you are starting a strategic planning process, John’s talks will open your mind to thinking differently to help steer you away from a typical outcome.

Ed Sitar – Manager of Economic and Business Development at ComEd