One of Mayor Paul TenHaken’s favorite quotes is this:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
As a city, Sioux Falls isn’t immune to forming goals without plans, he added.
So one of his first initiatives upon taking office earlier this year was One Sioux Falls, a framework to identify areas critical to the city’s future that is being used to guide specific goals.
“The reason we rolled it out was to create a unified vision that people could get behind,” TenHaken said. “That’s not only our city employees but the citizens of our community. People need to feel like they’re following a vision and that they’re working toward one universal goal. Sometimes in Sioux Falls we’ve been a little reactive to the market, and One Sioux Falls is really about proactive initiatives where we need to be making significant strides to keep our economy successful.”
The four elements of One Sioux Falls have a couple overarching themes: Innovation combined with a foundation for growth.
“My background in innovation and in the technology sector is going to be woven through a lot of these initiatives,” said TenHaken, the founder and former CEO of digital marketing firm Click Rain.
“We need to look at new ways of solving old challenges. And at the same time, we can’t ignore the basics we need to keep Sioux Falls moving – infrastructure, wastewater expansion, street work. Those are non-negotiables.”
Here’s a closer look at the four focus areas of One Sioux Falls.
Safety and Health
While public health and safety are broad areas of focus, TenHaken is honing in on two specifics: Narcotics and behavioral health
“If you try to make a big impact in those two areas, your community will automatically become safer,” TenHaken said. “Those are root challenges for our community.”
The workforce implications for business are potentially big, he added.
“If we can add more people to the workforce who are better employees and ready to work, and who maybe can’t work now because of mental health or addiction challenges, that’s significant.”
TenHaken calls housing a fundamental element of existence.
“If you don’t have a place to stay, nothing else matters,” he said. “So ensuring people have accessible housing is really important to make sure our workforce grows and our community is safe.”
That means addressing everything from the price of rental housing to the availability of homes for first-time buyers.
“Traditional affordable housing is one element of this, but I also hear a lot from the building industry and the real estate industry that we have a real shortage of housing for people who might be making $50,000 and want to get in their first home,” TenHaken said. “So revitalization of our core neighborhoods is key.”
TenHaken said he hopes public-private partnerships can be formed to address the growing need.
“Housing and workforce are like hand in glove. You can’t have one without the other,” he said. “I think businesses that help find solutions for employee housing will find it’s a huge competitive advantage.”
While TenHaken has identified workforce as a key focus area for the city, his interpretation of the city’s role in workforce development revolves around the quality of life created in Sioux Falls.
“The city is responsible for creating a place where people want to stay, where they want to move back and where they never want to leave,” he said.
“So rather than us having our own workforce development initiatives in terms of programs, we believe that’s the task of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. It’s our job to create a city that allows those programs to be successful.”
That includes reinvestment in downtown, arts, entertainment, cultural offerings and other quality of life enhancements, he said.
“We want those of you bringing in new workers to be able to share that Sioux Falls has a low crime rate, that it has some of the best parks and an incredible zoo and venues for outdoor concerts,” TenHaken said. “Those are the things the city has to continue to invest in to grow our workforce.”
People should feel they can have a say in their city, Ten Haken said, so the final One Sioux Falls focus area is around engaging others.
“Right now the general public has very little say, including the business community, so we want to do a better job in bringing them into some of the decisions we’re making,” he said.
“When we budget next year, I want to hear from businesses and city leaders and citizens on how they think we should be spending our money.”
There also will be a focus on hearing from the diverse community and supporting the needs of its residents, he added.
“A big one for me is going to be our diverse community and the immigrant community. We want to lead initiatives that ensure immigrants in Sioux Falls have the training and skills and tools to be successful. That’s very much a One Sioux Falls challenge.”
City department directors have recently brought forward bold goals that fit each of the focus areas, TenHaken said.
“And they are all ‘smart’ goals – measurable and time bound – so we’ll have a dashboard and a way to report back to the public with specific goals that tie to the One Sioux Falls framework. It’s a much more transparent way to know what the city is working on and to hold us accountable.”
There is better training for our workforce in Sioux Falls. A multitude of options are available to meet businesses' needs at the postsecondary level including city programs, state grants, technical training, and a new $50 million scholarship program for technical school students.Read More