Introducing: Internship Info with Claire Herbst of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation

Welcome to Internship Info, our weekly blog segment featuring information about internships, opportunities in Sioux Falls, and more! Each week on Tuesdays, you’ll find a new post to learn about a featured employer or best practices for applying for jobs and internships.

This week’s Internship Info features Claire Herbst, who is the Talent Recruitment Coordinator with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. She helps students find internships in the Sioux Falls area!

 

Tell me about yourself

I graduated from the University of South Dakota in December of 2021 with a degree in accounting, a minor in Legal Studies in Business, and a certificate in Inclusive Leadership. I worked as an Accountant for eight months before coming into the Talent Recruitment Coordinator position with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. I had two accounting internships during my college career, my first one was at the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company and my second one was at First Dakota Title.

What do you do at the Sioux Falls Development Foundation?

At the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, I am the Talent Recruitment Coordinator. Within my position I am responsible for the program called INTERN Sioux Falls. INTERN Sioux Falls was launched to help businesses create and maintain internship programs for college students as well as assist college students and career centers in finding and filling internships in the Sioux Falls region. Once interns are in Sioux Falls for the summer, I assist in immersing them within the community so they can get a glimpse of what it’s like to live and work in Sioux Falls!

Why do you think internships are important?

I believe internships are important because they give valuable exposure to what a career in your chosen field would be like and can assist in figuring out a career path. They give so many opportunities to expand your network and gain strong relationships with those who can be your advocate for recommendations and references. Internships have the potential to catapult you into a career you have always wanted.

What is your favorite thing about working and living in Sioux Falls?

What I love about living and working in Sioux Falls is the strong community. There is always someone to help you out in big and small ways and there is always an opportunity to help others if you are capable. There are so many opportunities within the community to better yourself and there is always someone supporting you in everything you do.

Come back next week Tuesday for our blog featuring architecture and engineering firm, ISG!

Want to be a part of INTERN Sioux Falls? Contact:

Claire Herbst

Talent Recruitment Coordinator

Colorado family grows aquarium business with move to Sioux Falls

You wouldn’t think a love for the ocean would lead Jon and Robyn Johnson to Sioux Falls.

But it did.

Jon Johnson, 32, and his wife, Robyn, 29, were living in Colorado when she was offered a remote-work position as a sign language interpreter. They could move to either Madison, Wisconsin, or Sioux Falls. Robyn’s family is from Lakeville, Minnesota, and Sioux Falls seemed like the perfect location. Jon was able to get a position with Oak Ridge Nursery in Brandon, and they moved to town.

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

Part of the appeal of Sioux Falls was its location to the interstates and his desire to grow his business, Ocean Outfitters, which sells everything from snails and seahorses to clown fish and coral. They sell locally and plan to ship soon.

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

This is where the ocean comes in.

“We go and travel to all these reef shows, which are like farmers markets for fish and coral, and they have these huge shows, like every hobby does,” Jon said. “I want to put one here and invite vendors.”

The Johnsons operate their business out of their house – the main-floor den, to be exact. The walls are lined with saltwater tanks, and Jon painstakingly grows coral. It’s a mesmerizing and precise operation, full of waving plants and sea creatures in every color you can imagine.

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

“There aren’t a lot of people who do that here, and the city is expanding so rapidly, and so many people are moving here,” Jon said.

It’s a chance for him to take a lifelong love and turn it into a dream business, all while living in a place where they can raise their 4-month-old daughter, Savannah, surrounded by a community they’ve come to appreciate.

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

Robyn learned to sign after going to Take Your Daughter to Work Day with her mom. She met a deaf co-worker, who taught her a few signs. “I just loved him,” she said. When she had to choose a language in high school, she chose American Sign Language. She knew quickly she wanted to be an interpreter and received a bachelor’s degree in interpreting from St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul.

But carpal tunnel led her to take a break and accept a job as the softball coach at Brevard College in North Carolina, where she met Jon, who was a groundskeeper after serving seven years in the Army.

“They sent me to work for her, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Jon jokes. “She gave me a list, and I’m still working on it.”

Eventually, they decided to take their 30-foot camper to the West Coast, living in it for a while.

“I loved it. I would go back and do it again,” Robyn said.

Jon agrees: “I could live in a tiny house.”

Turns out, they only made it as far as Colorado, where the mountains made them want to stay. They bought a house and settled down, and Robyn began working as an interpreter for the school district.

But then, the city started to get to them.

“You can go into the mountains and have these epic views and the Colorado lifestyle, but the city is traffic and stress and dirty and toxic,” Robyn said.

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

Plus, Robyn felt like she wanted to do a different kind of interpreting, and that job led them here. She works for Convo interpreting services, which allows her to work from home.

They first looked for a house on the west side of the city and then in Baltic but eventually settled in southeastern Sioux Falls. “We would see people in the yard and reading outside,” Robyn said.

“Some days, I want to go back to the mountains or Tennessee, and then I’m shoveling the back patio in shorts and a hoodie, and I’m like, I’m not going anywhere,” Jon said.

Plus, they like the rate the city is growing, while still keeping a smaller-city feel.

“We got lucky when we bought the house,” Jon said. “They had to sell it, and it needed some love. As soon as we walked in, we loved it. We live in this big, beautiful house and think ‘we get to live here.’ We walk around the neighborhood, and these kids are so nice and so respectful.”

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

Robyn agrees.

“When we moved in, it was just starting to be winter. As I got pregnant and walked the dogs, everyone saw our journey and my growing belly and having Savannah here, and we got to hear their stories.”

The family’s own story reflects what a number of newcomers say about Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Sioux Falls is extremely welcoming to small-business owners, remote workers and young families, and the Johnsons are experiencing all three,” she said. “And as they grow their business, the central location in Sioux Falls combined with the state’s business-friendly tax environment are going to be a total win-win for these entrepreneurs.”

Jon said that kind of community is exactly what they wanted.

They laugh about when they first came to South Dakota. They were at a restaurant, and the server offered ranch – and extra ranch – with their wings and pickles.

“We were like: ‘What did you just offer? Ranch? We’ll take it and the extra,’” Robyn said.

“I was like, we’re home,” Jon said.

Nice enough to raise a family and start a business.

“I was that weird kid with fish tanks all over his room,” Jon said. “My parents let me have whatever I could fit on my dresser. I did that until I went into the military.”

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

His time in the Army put a pause on fish tanks, but one day he suggested to Robyn that they go into a shop.

After 10 minutes in the shop, she was all-in, he said.

Jon especially loves introducing people to the hobby.

“That’s the most fun,” he said. “I grew up landscaping, and I am so used to talking to people. And I love to learn. The ocean is the largest environment on the planet and the least explored. You are taking that and playing God in a place smaller than a bathtub, and you’re trying to control it the same way the ocean controls it.”

Jon and Robyn Johnson move to Sioux Falls, SD

Jon’s favorite are zoanthids. “They look like little flowers, and they’ll grow up the side of things. There’s a never-ending color combination.”

Robyn loves the rock flower. “They are bold and vicious, and they eat the heads off of fishes.”

She has begun a freelance photography business, working with families to hear their stories and capture memories. And, of course, practicing her skills on her own growing family.

It’s all part of making Sioux Falls home. They’ve planted apple trees, built garden beds, know everyone around the block.

“People are like, ‘Why do you live here?’” Jon said. “And we think, you should go live in some other place and come back and see how nice it is here.”

4th Quarter Directions Newsletter

2023 Chairman’s Message

Past Chair’s Message

Development Foundation starts new era of real estate development

Land Acquisitions

New Neighbors

Vision Sioux Falls to Establish Roadmap for our community

TALENT ENGAGEMENT HELPS SOON-TO-BE GRADUATES WITH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

WIN IN WORKFORCE SUMMIT 2022’S FIFTH ANNIVERSARY SETS RECORD FOR ONSITE ATTENDANCE

WIN in Workforce Summit 2022’s Fifth Anniversary Sets Record for Onsite Attendance

Win in Workforce Summit 2022 brought record onsite attendance as talent and workforce initiatives remain an important issue globally.

“We are very appreciative and grateful for the tremendous response from attendees and organizations supporting WIN in Workforce Summit 2022,” said Denise Guzzetta, Vice President of Talent and Workforce for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “We continue to build on a great initiative started in 2018 by the Talent and Workforce Committee with a simple desire to engage and share the best talent and workforce practices within our region. In 2022, we had nearly 800 people in attendance, and we are excited to start planning for WIN 2023.”

“Business and community leaders engaging each other in sessions about workforce-related topics covering culture, collegiate engagement, sustainability, and others illustrates why Sioux Falls is a great community,” says Bob Mundt, President and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Special thanks to all organizations investing financially in WIN 2022, including Avera, City of Sioux Falls, First Bank & Trust, Forward Sioux Falls, Journey Group, MidAmerican Energy, Sanford Health, Sayre Associates, University of Sioux Falls, and Xcel Energy.

Talent engagement helps soon-to-be graduates with employment opportunities

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Career Connections program hosted Talent Tours for City and Industry with 16 employer partners on December 7, 2022, to share high-demand jobs with soon-to-be graduates.

With nearly 200 high school seniors from Brandon Valley High and Washington High School involved, students chose between different career tracks involving health care, manufacturing, construction, and local government, to gain valuable connections and resources for jobs related to their chosen career path.

The program connects students with business and community leaders during four separate 60-minute group tours to help students figure out their next steps after graduation in May 2023. From students participating in time drills to dress in protective fire gear, watching a suppression hearing about lawful searches, to building an HVAC system to support 500 occupants in a commercial building, students asked questions from experts about what their daily work involves.

“I participated in the government track and had no idea about the background and qualifications of fire personnel. This visit helped me understand how my interests in chemistry could be applied to a career,” said Hannah, a Brandon Valley senior graduating in May 2023.

“Hannah’s experience is normal,” says Denise Guzzetta, Vice President of Talent and Workforce for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “ We created Career Connections to combine career and educational exposure and exploration, leading to viable career opportunities available to students in the Sioux Falls region. “We know from long-term studies conducted by the U.S. government that high schoolers ages 16-19 years participating in career exposure and exploration programs have higher wages at 23 and gain higher quality jobs by 30 than their peers who were not exposed, by helping to shape their career journeys.”

Studies have also reported that students participating in career exposure and exploration programs gain critical thinking skills and self-esteem through research, business engagement, and focusing on areas of strength.

For more information about talent development programs, please get in touch with Denise Guzzetta at 605-595-4355.

Vision Sioux Falls to Establish Roadmap for Our Community

By Mike Lynch

Work has begun on Vision Sioux Falls, a long-range, community-wide strategic plan that will provide a blueprint for moving our community forward for the next ten years.

Forward Sioux Falls is collaborating with the City of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Sioux Empire United Way, and the Sioux Falls School District. The objective for Vision Sioux Falls is to be inspirational in designing a meaningful roadmap that will capitalize on the unprecedented momentum we have experienced as a community.

Omaha-based consulting firm RDG Planning & Design has been hired to coordinate the plan, which will focus on quality-of-life attributes within focus areas including the following:

  • Arts/Entertainment/Recreation/Leisure
  • Education/Training/Workforce
  • Health & Human Services
  • Housing
  • City Image/Marketing
  • Public Safety

To date, a public engagement plan has included surveys, listening sessions, community roundtables and one-on-one interviews. Several other opportunities for the public to participate will be offered over the next few months. A dynamic website, found here, is designed to track the plan’s progress, promote upcoming events and allow individuals to provide input using an interactive map. Feedback collected will be progressively evaluated to determine what gaps or trends rise to the top. Ultimately, action items will be identified, stakeholders named, and metrics determined.

A Community Allies committee, comprised of individuals within underserved areas of our community, serves as a bridge to conversations within marginalized populations. In addition, a Strategic Council includes representatives from a wide base of perspective from within the community. These individuals are meeting several times throughout the planning process to provide insight on priorities that focus on three key elements: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

The strategic plan is scheduled to be completed by late spring 2023.

New neighbors

By: Karen Ruhland

Questions often arise in meetings, casual conversations, and formal requests as to where people come from and why they choose the area. Consider your own story, and often the answers aren’t too different.

Family, friends, education, opportunity, and careers answer the majority of the why’s. Add in quality of life, cost of living, and healthcare as important factors for others.

In terms of where our new metro area neighbors are coming from . . . Census data and the IRS can provide migration stats, moving companies and residential closings are additional sources. Conversations with new co-workers, neighbors, or friends of friends provide additional narrative and interesting stories.

So, what are all these sources telling us?

According to IRS county-based statistics, 4,500 individual tax returns that listed an out-of-state address in 2019 listed a Sioux Falls metro area address in 2020. While the majority of these come from our neighboring states, 104 came from Maricopa County in the Phoenix metro, 65 from two counties in the Los Angeles area, 41 from Clark County in the Las Vegas metro, and just shy of that from Seattle’s King County, Colorado Springs’ El Paso County and Chicago’s Cook County.

On a regional basis, new residents come from the Twin Cities, southwest Minnesota, Sioux City, northwest Iowa, Omaha, Fargo, Des Moines, and Lincoln in descending order based on IRS County-to-County Migration.

Year to date residential closings from one of our member organizations, First Dakota Title, indicate similar trends continued in 2022 with most of the movement coming from the Twin Cities, Omaha and Lincoln, different communities in Iowa, Seattle, and various metros in Colorado.

A quick look at the Foundation’s Board and Staff shows the vast majority are native South Dakotans with a handful of Nebraskans, Minnesotans and Iowans filling out the ranks and a few outliers. Where they received the education shows more diversity; about 40% obtained their undergraduate degrees out-of-state indicating most moved back or received their education in the area and stayed.

One block of residents currently living in southeast Sioux Falls encompasses even more diversity: two families originally from eastern Europe via way of Arizona and Iowa; natives of Colorado, California, Minnesota, and Iowa; South Dakotans from west river and Aberdeen and life-long Sioux Falls residents.

Stories the Foundation has posted recently tell of new residents from Portland, Detroit, Atlanta, Virginia, Alaska, and California; and why they moved here.

Sioux Falls and the surrounding towns will always be a draw for residents from southeast South Dakota, northwest Iowa, and southwest Minnesota. Attracting individuals and families from further afar will continue as well. Quality of life and opportunity are attributes, and the Foundation continues efforts to spread the word.

You can help! Invite your friends and relatives to check out the area, explore career opportunities available here, and connect them with your network of business contacts. Encourage high schoolers to explore the education offerings in our region. Encourage the college set to explore internship opportunities here and connect with our INTERN Sioux Falls Coordinator. Tout South Dakota tax advantages, healthcare options, and the plethora of activities available to the out-of-state soon-to-be retirees you know.

The Development Foundation can help make connections!

Disclaimer: Information provided by First Dakota Title does not include confidential information such as names of specific addresses.

Land Acquisitions

Foundation Park continues to grow, not only with new tenants but with more developable acres of land. The Sioux Falls Development Foundation recently executed agreements and will be closing on 70 acres that will expand the industrial park boundary to the north. Any time you can acquire additional land that is contiguous to an existing park development it becomes very cost effective. These 70 acres will utilize the infrastructure that is being extended in the next 12-18 months to service all of Foundation Park north of the railroad tracks. This will bring the total overall developable land in Foundation Park to 926 acres.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation also closed on 135 acres east of I-29 in October. This land, directly east of Foundation Park, became available in early 2022. It made sense for the Foundation to acquire the land as inventory for future development. The most important aspect of this land is that is resides in the same sewer basin as Foundation Park and will be served by the existing lift station installed for Foundation Park. The Development Foundation plans to work through the annexation process with the City and begin master planning. It’s realistic to see development in this area in the next 3-5 years.

land purchases map

Development Foundation starts new era of real estate development

Historically, the Development Foundation has acquired farmland on the northern edges of Sioux Falls and invested in infrastructure to transform the land into business and industrial parks. These investments ultimately facilitated the creation of tens of thousands of jobs for the greater Sioux Falls region.

Development Foundation staff members take pride in managing the inventory of industrial acres available so as to always be prepared when existing area businesses are ready to expand and when new businesses look to relocate to Sioux Falls. Over the years, Sioux Falls, the surrounding communities, private businesses, and most importantly, our residents, have benefited from these efforts. Those benefits include finding meaningful employment, raising a family, growing a business, and pursuing a high quality of life here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our mission “to collaboratively create quality economic growth and workforce development in the Sioux Falls MSA to improve our quality of life” will continue to guide (and drive) these efforts forward into the future.

As evidenced above, the Development Foundation has a long successful history in strategically developing real estate to accomplish specific goals. In quarter four of 2022, in partnership with Mayor TenHaken, Chief of Staff Erica Beck, Director of Planning & Development Services Jeff Eckhoff, and the Development Foundation’s Executive Board members Kurt Loundenback, Pat Costello, Steve Kolbeck, Ryan Boschee, and Kent Cutler, the Foundation identified an opportunity to leverage our institutional expertise, knowledge, and partnerships to strategically accomplish new goals. Goals that include supporting the community’s housing plan, slowing development sprawl, increasing land use efficiency, and ultimately keeping the Sioux Falls area investable for decades into the future. In order to preserve our mission and honor the storied legacy of the Development Foundation, this expanded scope of strategic land development will be operated by the newly formed Falls Area Development Corporation in partnership with the Development Foundation.

The Development Foundation is excited to begin a new era of real estate development for the betterment of our community and region. The Sioux Falls area has consistently achieved success for a litany of reasons, but the most important reason can be found in the mantra of our partner, Forward Sioux Falls: “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Transformational accomplishments for our community can only be achieved when private businesses, governmental bodies, and non-profits pause from competition and unite towards common goals. Our land development efforts, for both Sioux Falls Development Foundation and now Falls Area Development Corporation, rely on partnerships to be successful. We will achieve more by acting together, and we look forward to continuing to build successful partnerships in the future.

Past Chair’s Message

By Kurt Loudenback, President, Grand Prairie Foods, Inc.

2022 has been a year of resiliency and recovery. Our community has emerged stronger and more resilient as we have dealt with some crazy economic challenges over the last 2 years. Despite all of the headwinds we have faced, The Foundation has had another good year of land sales, prospect development and connection between workforce candidates and our members. We are collectively in a good spot to take advantage of continued interest in our state and region while addressing the need for expanding a skilled workforce.

Through various partnerships with both the public and private sectors, the Foundation is positioned to provide valued services to our members, our clients, and our community. Board identified priorities including business retention and expansion, business attraction, and workforce and talent development remain key focus areas. Foundation leaders created a plan centered around these areas three years ago and we have been executing on strategies and programs developed to address these needs.

Partnerships with existing companies looking to grow in the Sioux Falls region have increased dramatically. The Foundation’s Business Retention & Expansion initiative has paid dividends with several expansions. Additionally, the Foundation continues to work with the City of Sioux Falls on expansion projects and infrastructure developments.

Our Business Attraction efforts have resulted in land sales in Foundation Park and Sioux Empire Development Park 8; and we have implemented new and creative marketing techniques to promote the area. Our partnership with local brokers to tap into their national networks has created additional interest from companies across the country.

We have implemented new programs to identify and attract talent to the region and build up our talent from within. Many of our events are both in-person as well as virtual, allowing us to expand our reach far beyond our borders. Our WIN in Workforce Summit in October brought nearly 800 HR professionals, educators, and industry leaders together to share new ideas and best practices for successful talent recruitment, development, and retention. Talent Tours, Talent Rebound events and Talent Draft Day incorporate both in-person and virtual formats, resulting in hundreds of connections between local employers, high school, and post-secondary students to promote the benefits of living and working in Sioux Falls.

We will continue to employ these strategies and programs in 2023 and will continue to have success in growing our region. While these are challenging times in growing our workforce, we believe our efforts will have far-reaching effects on the future growth and sustainability of our region.

The message that Sioux Falls and South Dakota are the best place to own a business, raise a family, and be a young professional are becoming clear. In 2021, Sioux Falls welcomed 7,000 new residents. People are choosing to relocate here because of the quality of life that our community offers: great schools, parks, dining and entertainment, and economic opportunity. In 2023, we’ll be sharing that message with new prospects and potential residents.

It has been a pleasure serving as the Chair of the Board during 2022 and I leave this organization in good hands. Thanks to all of you who have made the Foundation the great economic engine that it is. The Board of Directors and leadership team appreciate your support and hope to continue serving you as members of the Foundation. THANK YOU and have a prosperous 2023.

2023 Chairman’s Message

By Steve Kolbeck, Principal Manager, Xcel Energy South Dakota

What a great honor it is to be taking the helm of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation at a time of tremendous change and challenges. As the premier economic development organization in the region, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation has positioned itself to successfully meet those challenges.

Under past leadership, the Foundation has literally paved the way for business and industrial growth in the region by creating the Foundation Park mega site, recruiting thousands of new jobs and dozens of new companies, and creating a workforce recruitment model that is second to none. Past leadership has leveraged the cooperative spirit of Sioux Falls to finance these opportunities, create an aggressive marketing plan and create an environment of success in the region.

I want to thank Kurt Loudenback, Pat Costello, Todd Ernst and Tim McCarthy for their leadership over the past six years and welcome our three new Board members – Scott Wickersham, Raquel Blount and Chris Ekstrum – to the Board. I look forward to working with all of you to continue leading this community.

So what’s ahead in 2023?

  • Completion of grading and infrastructure development within Foundation Park North and Park 8 West including streets, sewers, water, power, and lot development.
  • Construction of the CJ Foods facility and more projects in Foundation Park.
  • Expected sales of 100 more acres in Foundation Park.
  • Full scale operation of Amazon & FedEx in Foundation Park South.
  • Construction of Presidio Manufacturing and the National Guard Readiness facility in Park 8 East.
  • Expansion of several existing companies that are currently in the planning process.
  • Implementation of the Falls Area Development Corporation and redevelopment of targeted areas for workforce housing opportunities.
  • Continuation and expansion of Workforce Initiatives with our State and local partners.
  • Strong marketing to site selectors, brokers, and workforce partners.
  • Opening of the Startup Sioux Falls Center in downtown Sioux Falls.
  • Opening of the Health Sciences Clinical Simulation Center at Southeast Technical College.
  • Continuous efforts to develop a strong quality of life in the region.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is proud to be leading these efforts and programs and we sincerely appreciate each one of you for your talents, your business, and your involvement in our community. I look forward to serving you as your Chair. Please continue to be a part of this great organization.

Have a great 2023.

From founder’s home to big expansion, business focused on supporting auto hobbyists sees surge in sales

For months during the pandemic, automotive hobbyists had plenty of time to tinker in their garage – and it showed in sales for a Sioux Falls company that has grown from the ground up.

Dakota Digital started in founder Ross Ortman’s house in 1986. It’s now a 165-person operation that’s the leading manufacturer of aftermarket gauges for hot rods, muscle cars, street rods and trucks. It also has a full line of gauges for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

And it’s getting bigger in the coming year. The company is putting up a 40,000-square-foot expansion that will be connected to its current headquarters in northwest Sioux Falls, along with plans for a 60,000-square-foot building to the north that would be available for a tenant.

Dakota Digital

“When the pandemic hit, things went nuts,” Ortman said. “We’ve been struggling to keep up ever since.”

The new addition will connect to the existing building with an enclosed walkway for moving product back and forth. The multilevel building will house sales and tech support staff and offer additional warehouse space and electronics production area. It’s expected to be complete by the end of the year.

“We’re really squeezed into the length of what we’ve got now for open space, so we’re making our production lines longer with more automated equipment,” Ortman said. “Things will run a lot smoother.”

Dakota Digital

The expansion is the latest chapter of an impressive startup success story. As a high schooler, Ortman was into electronics and autos. In college, he did some technical writing, and after graduation he converted his work into articles for an industry magazine. Through that exposure, he began selling parts through mail order to other hobbyists.

Car from Dakota Digital

Dash panel from Dakota Digital

This 1967 Chevelle, seen at a recent SEMA trade show in Las Vegas, includes an instrument cluster that Dakota Digital manufactures.

By the time Ortman decided to leave his job seven years later, “I had a few people working out of my house,” he said. “I’d have people show up to work, and then I’d go to my full-time job.”

Dakota Digital gradually grew into commercial buildings, and by the early 2000s, it was out of space.

“The Sioux Falls Development Foundation actually opened their Park VII early because I wanted to move to that part of town,” Ortman said. “They said if I’d commit to being the first tenant, they’d get the streets in.”

In 2003, he moved into a 20,000-square-foot building on 6 acres in the northwest Sioux Falls development park near 60th Street North and Marion Road. It doubled in size five years later.

“We were the only ones out here in the middle of a cornfield for years, and now it’s growing like mad,” Ortman said. “For us, it really helped because a lot of my employees were from Canistota and Montrose and Humboldt, and I lived by Renner, so being in that part of town was good geographically for commutes.”

While Park VII is sold out of land today, “it was a slower development park,” said Dean Dziedzic, vice president of economic development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“We were out there way in advance, and everything is starting to catch up, with housing and commercial business filtering in around it. The game-changer was when Walmart located there in 2011, and we knew early on with the exit off I-90 and Marion Road that it would be an appealing area to develop, but it just took patience and growing tenants like Dakota Digital.”

Ortman knew the area was where he’d want to expand, so he purchased additional land before Walmart built nearby and the subsequent interest in the area.

“Ross has been great to work with for years,” Dziedzic said. “He served on our real estate committee for six years and was an asset to that, and he has a great business. They’ve just been booming, and we’re excited for their success.”

Despite supply chain-related issues that have plagued many industries, for Dakota Digital “it hasn’t been too bad,” Ortman said. “We always over-forecasted, and consequently the whole microchip shortage affected us to a lesser degree, so we got really lucky with long-range planning and forecasting.”

Dash Panel from Dakota Digital

The company designs and manufactures its products in-house, so “we’re very vertically integrated in that respect, from concept to engineering to the hardware and software development and the production side,” Ortman said. “We do all our machining in-house, our printing of overlays and the final electronics assembly and production.”

Dash Panel from Dakota Digital

As he prepares for the expansion, Ortman is hoping to hire up to 20 additional production workers.

“We have a lot of orders on the books and need help fulfilling everything,” he said. “We have a really good referral program, so that’s worked well for us, and we try to maintain a really good, quality family work environment.”

Dakota Digital has worked closely with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation since moving into its first park decades ago, Ortman said.

“They’ve been fantastic to work with,” he said. “Just going through concepts and with Dean and getting his thoughts was helpful and especially with the whole retail side of it that’s gone on in Park VII. We want to make sure we do the right thing for the neighborhood – something that’s going to fit well and just give the best visual impression.”

The potential 60,000-square-foot additional building is being marketed by Bender Commercial Real Estate Services.

Dakota Digital rendering

“If we get a tenant lined up for all or part of it, I’ll move on it sooner. Otherwise, I’ll wait until our expansion building is completed,” Ortman said. “Jans Corp. is doing all the dirt work for both buildings, so it’s ready to build whenever the timing is right. I think ultimately it will be a nice park-looking development with buildings that lay out really well together.”

To learn more about Dakota Digital, click here.

Sioux Falls: A top 10 city for remote work

Sioux Falls: 8th Best City for Remote Work

As companies have increasingly allowed for work from home options, people are looking for the best places to live as remote workers.

Forage has done the research and found which small cities in the U.S. are the best places to live for remote workers, and Sioux Falls is one of them, ranking No. 8.

“If you have the option to work from home, living in a smaller, more affordable city rather than a dense metropolis may be worth considering,” the article says. Cities were scored based on nine criteria relevant to remote workers to assess the feasibility of working from home, affordability, and local entertainment.

Learn more about Sioux Falls’ ranking, how the study was conducted, and how other cities ranked at the link below.

Spirit of Sioux Falls Scholarship application now open!

The Spirit of Sioux Falls Scholarship was established by the Development Foundation and more than 100 businesses and individuals to honor three Sioux Falls leaders who lost their lives in a plane crash April 19, 1993: David Birkeland, Angus Anson, and Roger Hainje. The Development Foundation representatives were on a trip with Governor George Mickelson and four others promoting economic development when they all perished.

The Spirit of Sioux Falls Scholarship benefits college and vocational or technical school students who are pursuing a degree in business.

Applicants for this award must live in or maintain residency in Lincoln or Minnehaha County—even though they may attend a school outside the area; or they must attend school in one of these two counties. Applicants must be pursuing a degree in business and be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role of business in American society. Motivation and ability to succeed, academic excellence, and community involvement are also criteria.

The Spirit of Sioux Falls Scholarships are administered by the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation. To learn more or apply, click here. The application deadline is March 15, 2023.

Move from Portland leads couple to career opportunities in Sioux Falls

For many in the restaurant industry, serving diners is a job and not necessarily a career.

That’s not how Maddie Wadman sees it.

“Everybody loves to come to restaurants. Everybody’s happy to be there,” she said.

And, life-changing events happen in restaurants. She has experienced that firsthand, meeting her future husband while working at a rooftop bar in Seattle. They dated long distance before she joined him in the Portland area, initially working in top-tier restaurants before moving into property management and mortgage.

Maddie and Sam Wadman move to sioux falls

Recently married, Wadman and her husband, Sam, moved to Sioux Falls from the Portland area earlier this year. Sam had an offer to transfer to a job in sales for the trucking industry.

He initially turned it down. She told him he needed to reconsider.

“And we got a plane ticket out to South Dakota,” he said. “And first, I was like, yeah, I don’t know, but it just started to materialize better, and it was everything we were looking for. We came out here and liked it a lot and decided to jump ship. Secretly, we wanted to leave the Northwest. We were tired of everything going on and looking for a way out.”

They were attracted by how “it was not too big, not too small, and everybody was really nice,” he continued. “The weather was really nice, and it had a lot of small-town charm we really liked.”

Maddie “was pleasantly surprised with Sioux Falls,” she said. “I thought it would be a lot more rural, but especially on Phillips Avenue, there’s a good amount of boutiques and bars and restaurants. There’s a lot to do. I thought it was going to be a complete 180 from Portland, which is what we were looking for – the traffic was crazy, and it’s so expensive to live there, so I was super pleasantly surprised by Sioux Falls.”

They moved into a downtown loft at The Cascade, “and we absolutely love it. We love that we can walk to places,” Maddie said. “There’s a convenience store right downstairs. There’s a brewery, a pizza place, a pool. It’s awesome.”

Maddie and Sam Wadman move to sioux falls

With the move, Maddie decided “this is my time to dive into the restaurant industry and maybe show Sioux Falls fine dining from what I know on the West Coast,” she said. “It’s a career for a lot of people there, not just a job for when you need extra cash. So I said I’m going to get back into the restaurant industry, it’s what I love, and I think if I can get in with a really good restaurant, I can do this.”

Her first night in Sioux Falls ended up connecting her with that opportunity when the Wadmans went out with one of Sam’s colleagues to R Wine Bar & Kitchen and Maddie met owner Riccardo Tarabelsi. Sam began talking up his wife’s restaurant experience, and Tarabelsi started listening.

When he opened Maribella Ristorante this fall, Maddie was part of the team.

Maribella Ristorante

“Maribella is exactly what I was looking for. It’s amazing,” she said. “We’re so busy; I love it.”

As a server, she’s loving the challenge of convincing diners to expand their horizons and try some of the menu’s lesser-known offerings.

Maribella Ristorante

“In South Dakota, people stick with what they know and like,” she said. “It’s made me work to convince them to try something new, which is one of my favorite parts.”

She’s also taking advantage of her skills as a level one sommelier and hoping to build up to the next level of wine expertise in the new year. On the West Coast, she learned from one of few master sommeliers in the world, and she honed her serving skills at fine restaurants. Eventually, she might even open her own restaurant in Sioux Falls.

“I would love to open a farm-to-table steak restaurant,” she said. “Something that’s extremely sustainable I think would do so well in a state like this where people love meat and potatoes.”

Maddie and Sam Wadman move to sioux falls

The Wadmans’ experience is exactly what others are finding as they discover Sioux Falls.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all how this couple has gotten connected in our community so quickly,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Trucking and hospitality are two industries where we absolutely want to encourage new talent to discover Sioux Falls in the same way Sam and Maddie have. We’re thrilled they love downtown living and have found friends and hobbies already. And I know if business ownership is in their future that Sioux Falls will be there to support them on their journey.”

In the meantime, the Wadmans are fully embracing their new home.

“It’s really great,” Sam said. “We’ve met a lot of good people, and everybody is really down-to-earth wanting to connect and go out and do things. I golfed in the summer, and there are a ton of good courses in the area, which was surprising to me, and then I got into trap shooting and pheasant hunting, and that’s been awesome. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is. It could be 38 to 46 degrees for six months and raining all year with no sun in the Northwest, and it’s way, way worse. If it’s 19 and sunny, I think you enjoy yourself a lot more.”

Maddie and Sam Wadman move to sioux falls

Maddie has enjoyed exploring the area boutique and cocktail scene and said she can see them building a life here.

“I absolutely love it,” she said. “We were talking the other day and initially had made this our five- or 10-year plan, thinking OK, we’ll live here for maybe a decade or less and then move on to the next thing. But I think this is our forever plan. We absolutely love it here.”

Ready to learn more about carving your own path in Sioux Falls? Visit siouxfalls.com, or reach out to deniseg@siouxfalls.com.