In 1916, a state commission recommended that the state build a state-owned cement plant in Rapid City as a way to reduce costs to South Dakota consumers. A 1919 constitutional amendment authorized state-run businesses, and construction of the $2 million plant began in Rapid City in 1921.
Early Rapid City boosters recognized that limestone, the primary raw material in cement, surrounded the city. However, shortages of investment capital thwarted efforts to build a privately owned cement plant.
In 1918, then-Gov. Peter Norbeck endorsed the idea. He believed the plant should be operated at cost, but later the plant operated at a profit. By the 1980s, the plant was contributing more than $10 million annually to the South Dakota state budget.
In the final week of 2000, the South Dakota Legislatureapproved a deal negotiated by then-Gov. Bill Janklow to sell the plant to a Mexican company for $252 million.
Proceeds of the sale went into the Dakota Cement Trust to generate at least $12 million annually toward the state budget.
By 2009, the cement plant's work force had dropped from 200 to 90.
The plant, now known as GCC Dacotah, remains owned and operated by the American division of the company that bought it in 2000, GCC of America.