The recent annual meeting of the Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations saw the presentation of the first annual Partners in Progress Awards. These honors recognize those communities, individuals and companies that are making a difference, this year and every year, in growing our economy and making our communities better places to live and work. This year's awards were presented for Community Innovation, Regional Economic Development Champion and Business Partner of the Year.
The award for Community Innovation goes this year to Harrisburg. Taking risks and making connections led to innovation in Harrisburg this past year. The Harrisburg Economic Development Corporation and Chamber had already hired their first part-time staff person, but took that to the next level when they bolstered their partnership with the city to create the first full-time President and CEO to lead the organization. Harrisburg High School is developing programming to link the classroom with area businesses, a new internship program is creating opportunities for students to explore career options through hands-on experiences and a partnership with the Home Builders Association has led to the creation of the new Home Builders Academy.
Regional Economic Development Champion for 2019 is Joel Jorgenson, who served as president of the Brandon Development Foundation from 1987 to 2018. Achievements and economic advancements under his leadership include the development of four industrial development parks for the City of Brandon, recruitment and expansion of businesses that led to the creation of 1,400 jobs and a $60 million increase to the city's assessable property valuation.
Business Partner of the Year is DeGeest Steel Works in Tea. As a third generation family business, DeGeest Steel Works is committed to making connections between the classroom and careers in STEM, opening their doors to local student groups like Lego League. The SBA recognized Derek DeGeest earlier this year as the SD Small Business Person of the Year. The commitment to their team and their community, along with their drive to be innovative highlights their recognition as Business Partner of the Year.
Congratulations to this year's award recipients, to all the nominees and to regional residents who support economic development in so many ways. You are all winners!
By Nick Fosheim, Executive Director, Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations
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