The investment decisions we make today will form the economy of tomorrow. South Dakota needs a governor with the vision to seize the next great idea on the horizon, which is why our team is proud to announce the Marty Jackley Cybersecurity Initiative.

In 2016, Dakota State University (DSU) received a Board of Regents grant to launch the Cyber Classified Operations (Cyclops) Lab capable of conducting high-level and classified research in support of the Department of Defense. The Cyclops Lab was just the first of many recently launched research labs at DSU in an effort that is known as The Madison Cyber Laboratories (also known as The MadLabs). A new MadLabs building on the southwest corner of campus will house these important projects.

The university’s nationally recognized cyber operations program, one of only 19 in the nation, has fostered important relationships with the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Science Foundation, and other federal defense partners. These existing relationships are the cornerstone of a cybersecurity presence in South Dakota that can be expanded to grow our economy, employ our young professionals, and better secure our country against nation states who would do us harm.

As an electrical engineer, I recognize the importance of growing those relationships to build South Dakota’s capabilities for research and innovation.


  • Launch the South Dakota Cybersecurity Consortium. To ensure that South Dakota is a leader in the field of cybersecurity and computer science, I will form a financial and strategic partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), DSU, and our federal partners. United in our effort to attract federal grants, contracts, and investments, we will work together to modernize our cybersecurity capabilities and make South Dakota an attractive place to do business. On day one of my administration, this consortium will begin working on a 10-year strategic plan to maximize public and private investment in cybersecurity developments.
  • Expand DSU infrastructure. South Dakota is currently experiencing a scaling problem—but in a good way. The interest in computer science and cybersecurity careers is more than our institutions can currently handle. There are more than 1,000 students at DSU (500 online, 500 on-campus) studying cybersecurity and computer science, and thousands more around the country who want to make DSU their home. To fully leverage DSU’s competitiveness, I am committed to working with our regents to ensure the university has the proper campus infrastructure. Public-private partnerships and sound state investment will provide the living space and amenities our future cybersecurity experts need today.
  • Ensure competitive employment packages for top talent. Our cybersecurity efforts at DSU are being led by industry experts, and we want to attract more. In addition to current students and faculty, the DSU Cyclops Lab will be able to employ 100 researchers who bring resources from both private and public partners into our economy. The blend of topics within the MadLabs is already attracting this same private and public interest and will soon grow just as rapidly. Securing the grants and contract work that will grow South Dakota’s cybersecurity footprint will require an aggressive recruitment process. Leveraging competitive hiring packages and opportunities for meaningful research and field work will help bring leading cybersecurity experts to our state.
  • Integrate computer science into K-12 education. In addition to recruiting prospective college students from around the nation, South Dakota should be educating future generations of cybersecurity talent. I will work with our regental institutions, technical schools, and Department of Education to better integrate computer science and cybersecurity education into our K-12 system. It is never too early to start training our future scientists.
  • Promote summer camps and other recruitment opportunities. DSU has experienced great success with cybersecurity camps that educate prospective students, create more interest in STEM fields, and bring future experts into the pipeline. We will work with our institutions to expand these opportunities to give them even more regional and national recognition.


At the Jackley campaign, we aspire to do more than look four or eight years down the road. With this Cybersecurity Initiative, we want to look 100 years ahead. Together we can plant the seeds of an investment that will grow with time and move our economy to the front of this century’s cybersecurity expansion.

In addition to providing high-paying jobs to our graduates, keeping them in South Dakota, and bringing new workforce into the state, this initiative is about protecting the homeland we love. The weapon of choice for America’s enemy today is the computer, and our cybersecurity experts in South Dakota are leading the fight against those who threaten us.

Guided by this plan that calls for new ways of thinking, innovating, and investing, South Dakota can lead the way in cybersecurity development and make our state and nation a safer and more prosperous place for us all.