Heartland welcomes economist intern

Heartland has retained an economist intern to help with various projects throughout the summer months. Michael Shlanta, a recent graduate of Dakota State University, joined Heartland at the end of May.

Shlanta will be working with the Operations group to help streamline some of their forecasting processes to increase efficiency in the daily activities Heartland performs on behalf of our customers. Utilizing his computer programming background, Shlanta will help develop a new load forecasting tool. This will help Heartland more accurately anticipate load when scheduling market purchases within the SPP and MISO markets.

“With a limited number of staff at Heartland, continuously improving internal processes becomes a vital exercise,” said Chief Operations Officer Nate Jones. “Michael has the perfect background to dig into our daily forecasting processes.”

Another of Shlanta’s objectives is to provide a comprehensive view of the overall success rate of Heartland’s economic development program. He will be collecting information to gauge how much growth in Heartland’s customer communities can be attributed to the program since it started in 2004.

“We are always evaluating our programs and want to ensure they are providing the desired benefit,” said Heartland Director of Economic Development Casey Crabtree. “This will help us gauge the return on investment our incentives are providing and help determine what modifications we can make in the future.”

Shlanta will also be creating a program to more easily track business growth in the future, creating a meaningful way to evaluate incentives and loans as they are distributed.

Heartland applied for and was awarded funding through the American Public Power Association’s DEED (Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments) Program for the internship. DEED awards scholarships to provide work experience to students at utilities and to support research projects that can be emulated by other utilities.

Shlanta currently resides in Madison and will be attending graduate school in the fall at DSU. He previously worked as a student researcher in the Cyclops Research Lab at DSU and also as a systems intern at CitiBank.