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Vermillion Wins Eagle Creek with USD B-School, Broader Academics, DSU Support

Eagle Creek Software Services announced last week that it is opening a new facility in Vermillion, where it hopes to offer up to 200 jobs in return for various forms of corporate welfare.

The Volante follows up with more information about why Vermillion was able to play the USD card to win Eagle Creek while Madison, with tech-focused DSU, failed for a second time to get Eagle Creek's attention.

Reason #1: The Beacom School of Business:

[Beacom School of Business dean Mike] Keller further explained his knowledge of past encounters with the software company by discussing his contact with Jeff Brusseau, vice president of Eagle Creek. Brusseau used to teach at the Beacom School of Business until he took his current position at Eagle Creek two years ago. Before leaving USD, Brusseau mentioned Eagle Creek was looking to expand its operations, and that a Vermillion and USD partnership might be a viable option, Keller said [Trent Opstedahl, "Business School, Enrollment Attract Eagle Creek," USD Volante, 2013.03.20].

Who you know matters. A past prof turned exec was in the right place to make this specific move happen.

But the USD B-school didn't land Eagle Creek just by personal connection. Eagle Creek appears to be looking for more business-oriented graduates. The three master's degree programs they'd like to sponsor for their USD recruits are in computer science, administration, and business. DSU doesn't offer any of those three options on its campus (DSU offers an MBA, but only at the Sioux Falls University Center). And Dean Keller insists that the tech angle of the USD graduate program will not duplicate or directly compete with DSU's graduate program.

Reason #2: Broader education. Eagle Creek appears to prefer less tech-focused undergrads. The Information Technology Consultant Academy USD will create in partnership with Eagle Creek will certify students who take just four courses—two in computer science, two in business, followed by an internship. That's hardly a minor. Students majoring in history, communications, art, or economics could easily squeeze this certification for some immediate post-graduation job security.

That diversity of academic backgrounds would fit the work Eagle Creek does:

“The types of jobs Eagle Creek will be bringing are referred to as IT programming and consulting services. They don’t do traditional programming like writing code from scratch,” [Vermillion economic development chief Steve] Howe said. “Most of the companies that they are dealing with are buying off-the-shelf software. They are adapting that software to their customers’ needs.”

...Eagle Creek’s services are used by a variety of companies, from healthcare, insurance and financial services, to communications, technology, and life sciences [David Lias, "Firm Chooses Vermillion," Vermillion Plain Talk, 2013.03.17].

To meet the needs of that diverse range of customers, Eagle Creek appears not to want all tech specialists. They appear to want generalists who can interact intelligently with their clients in a wide range of fields.

Reason #3: One big happy family. Eagle Creek didn't say no to DSU's tech expertise. They're still getting it:

Concerning the graduate program, [USD graduate school dean Laurie] Becvar said USD is partnering with Dakota State University to develop and facilitate the curriculum and program.

“When we get to the graduate level, we are going to partner with DSU, because it’s true, they do have more resources simply because it’s their distinctive niche,” said Becvar [Opstedahl, 2013.03.20].

Eagle Creek doesn't have to move to Madison to get DSU's tech knowledge. The Regental system can act like one big happy university family, share DSU's tech knowledge around the state, and make it possible for Eagle Creek to pick Vermillion for its other apparent advantages over Madison.

Eagle Creek and Vermillion managed to put together a best-of-both-worlds deal. They get the tech expertise of Dakota State University that we assume would tantalize any tech company. But Eagle Creek get to use our Regental system to transfer that academic support to the university community that offers a more diversely educated workforce to support their business model and bottom line.


  1. Kelsey 2013.03.21

    I think lifestyle options also played a role. For your average tech employee (male, single, 25-40), Vermillion offers a little more recreation and social life, and proximity to Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Omaha. No offense to Madison -- we just have the whole package ;)

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