Nick Fosheim is executive director of the Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations. These organizations, with membership from communities, financial institutions, utility companies and individuals, have coordinated regional economic development activities in the two counties surrounding Sioux Falls for nearly three decades. LCEDA and MCEDA work to increase economic capacity for the region, including business recruitment and retention, links to resources and workforce development.
WIN: Why is workforce development a regional challenge?
Nick Fosheim: The talent pool that makes our businesses and communities grow is a highly mobile force that is not bounded by our two counties. The regionality of our economic prosperity during the past decade or two is the key to understanding that workforce development is inherently a Metropolitan Statistical Area experience, the four counties that make up our MSA. The designation is based on the percentage of residents that commute into Sioux Falls. There are employees who commute from Sioux Falls to area communities, from the towns around Sioux Falls into the city and from one county to another. Commuters understand that opportunity isn’t confined to city limits or county lines.
WIN: How does that mobile workforce impact regional economic development?
NF: Companies that are expanding in or relocating to our area quickly understand that potential employees come from a large geographic area and that locating in one of the LCEDA or MCEDA communities will give the company access to our complete regional workforce pool even beyond our MSA. Zip code doesn’t really matter in economic development, especially when companies want access to talent.
WIN: The communities around Sioux Falls have consistently been among the fastest growing areas in the US during the past ten to twenty years. What is driving that population growth?
NF: There is an ecosystem of economic prosperity that exists in our area, and the communities around Sioux Falls are a vital part of that ecosystem. The quality of life considerations are big factors. Many families who relocate to the Sioux Falls area for enhanced employment opportunities are from smaller communities or midwestern farms. Those individuals are looking for homes in towns like the ones they came from. In addition, the school districts in our communities are welcoming and determined to provide the best possible education. And communities in our two counties have access to all of the city amenities. The people who move into our LCEDA and MCEDA towns often become community leaders and regional economic development supporters.
WIN: What do you think will be the biggest element in achieving workforce growth?
NF: Innovation. We’re seeing it in our region right now, with innovative companies investing in facilities, people and communities, understanding that new challenges require new ways of thinking. Similarly, communities and school systems are being innovative in the ways they work together to meet community needs. We see it in the Lennox school-community housing program, internships at local manufacturing plants and Canton’s investment in hands-on educational opportunities for students. Every community is looking at ways to innovate and provide incentives for new families, new businesses and new economic growth. It’s an exciting time to be working with regional economic development!
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