South Dakota Fares Well in New 2021 Analysis

Location Matters 2021 – The State Tax Cost of Doing Business produced by the Tax Foundation and KPMG provides a comparative analysis of actual state business tax costs faced by businesses.  The study accounts for all business taxes including corporate income, property, sales, unemployment insurance, capital stock, inventory, and gross receipts taxes. Economists designed eight model firms, and modeled each firm twice in each state: once as a new firm eligible for tax incentives and once as a mature firm not eligible for such incentives.

In South Dakota, five of the eight mature firms modeled rank in the top 10 for lowest tax burdens – corporate headquarters, technology centers, data centers, capital-intensive manufacturing and labor-intensive manufacturing.

Out-of-state job-seekers relocate to Sioux Falls for variety of career opportunities

Other than his time in college, Dane Rausch had never lived outside Wichita, Kansas.

That changed a couple of months ago, when the 24-year-old moved to Sioux Falls for a promotion at Novak Sanitary Service as district controller for the Heartland division.

“I actually had never been to the state of South Dakota and knew zero about Sioux Falls,” Rausch said. “The furthest north in the Midwest I’d been was Minneapolis, and I’d never made it to South Dakota.”

But he and his fiancee, Kinley, who got married in late April, were ready for a change. She left her job in marketing at the Wichita airport and started looking for graphic design and social media jobs.

“She’s already said the amount of growth we’ve noticed in Sioux Falls versus Wichita is great, and we don’t think she’ll have a problem finding a job at all,” Rausch said.

“It’s been a crazy couple months with moving and planning a wedding, but it’s been a super easy transition. People have been incredibly helpful, and it’s been way easier than I thought it would be.”

Dane and Kinley are part of a growing number of people relocating to Sioux Falls for career opportunities, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“And that’s not surprising because there are so many opportunities here and more surfacing literally every day,” Guzzetta said.

“In our office, we see everything – from positions at corporate headquarters to the skilled trades, retail and hospitality, and so much more. If you want to embark on a fulfilling career path, we are going to have one that’s a fit for you here.”

Rausch said he was “anxious to see how big or small Sioux Falls felt” and was happy to discover “it still has a nice smaller-town feel. It’s not as overwhelming as moving to Minneapolis or even Omaha, and there is so much more to do recreationally outside than we noticed in Kansas. A lot more parks. There’s a huge dog park, and the downtown scene is a lot more diverse than the Wichita downtown scene. That was mainly bars, and it’s a nice contrast in Sioux Falls. You have your shopping, you have your dining, and you have your bars.”

They’re paying a little more in rent than in Wichita, “but the space is almost double what we rented there, and there’s a lot more going on,” he continued. “We came to visit when the Downtown Burger Battle was going on, which was really cool, and there are events and activities that are way more interactive than back in Kansas.”

Varied opportunities

New college grad Jessi White knew she wanted to move out of her native Kentucky, and she looked to her aunt and uncle for advice.

“They had traveled across the country, and their favorite spot is South Dakota. It’s where they want to live after retirement,” said White, who earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Marshall University at the end of 2020.

“I’ve never traveled this far in my life.”

She wanted to work in the area of taxation and found an opening as a tax accountant at Raven Industries.

“Everything about the job was something I had always wanted, so I figured why not,” White said. “In South Dakota, you don’t have to pay state taxes. In Kentucky, we do. There were all kinds of benefits when I lined it up. I love the snow – living in a place where I get to experience the four seasons.”

She likes the size of the metro area, around 250,000, because “you don’t have to travel far to go everywhere and do everything. I’ve joined a couple Facebook groups for people new to Sioux Falls, and people are super helpful with places to go and see. I’ve got a list lined up for summer.”

Her co-workers have made her work experience “above and beyond my expectations,” she added.

“I’d only had smaller internships, so it was a little scary moving to a new place not knowing anyone, but everyone has been super welcoming, and everyone at work made sure off the clock I was doing OK. Even though Sioux Falls is a bigger town, everyone is super friendly and nice and making sure I fit in.”

Naz Kahn arrived in Sioux Falls for a role at Raven around the same time as his co-worker – following a much longer journey.

Originally from Bangladesh, he came to the U.S. in 2013 for graduate school and went on to complete a master’s and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.

His research focused on agricultural robotics and led him to a role as a senior research engineer at Raven, which is a leader in autonomous agriculture solutions.

“I worked with a few ag companies in research projects, and all of them know Raven is big in this field, so it was really exciting and interesting for me to join here,” he said.

“When I got the phone call for the interview, I searched for South Dakota, and the first city was Sioux Falls, so I figured it must be a big city, but I didn’t know much about it. My parents and my family in the U.S. were excited I was moving to Sioux Falls and knew South Dakota is a nice place for vacations, so everyone is planning to come here this summer and use my apartment as a hub.”

He found a place to live within five miles of his downtown office, and “there is no traffic, which was new to me,” he said.

“When I first moved, I worried about Indian groceries and restaurants, and I don’t know if it was me or luck, but within the last three months, three Indian grocery stores opened, so that was exciting for me.”

He also is enjoying his move and his new career.

“There is no dull day at Raven. Every day, I work on something new,” he said. “The ag project I’m working on now, as far as I know, no one in the ag industry is working on something like this. The problems we have and the solutions we come up with are all new.”

Executives find fit too

Those later in their career also are finding fresh opportunities in Sioux Falls. Rick Weelborg moved from Houston in October 2020 to become the city’s chief technology officer.

His career had taken him from Seattle to Thailand before Texas, with service in the Army and a resume that includes leadership roles at Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett Packard and IBM.

He was beginning to grow his own IT company when the pandemic halted new contracts and his subsequent business development.

“With everything going on, I was looking and had always been keeping my eye on the region and was looking for a new opportunity coming out of COVID when the chief technology role opened up,” Weelborg said. “There were a lot of things about the position that really attracted me, and it seems like a good fit to get back to South Dakota.”

He grew up in Dells Rapids, graduated from high school in 1987 and spent two years at Augustana University before joining the Army.

“It seemed like coming out of high school we would do whatever we needed to get out of South Dakota and get to a big city, and now I find most of my peers are finding their way back to where we grew up,” he said.

“I think you leave and then realize quickly how good we have it in South Dakota.”

He had moved back between homes on and off over the years but hadn’t spent much time in Sioux Falls for the past six years.

“And the downtown has been transformed, and there’s more to come,” he said. “So I’m really enjoying that and checking out new parts of Sioux Falls that have grown. I’m renting a town house on the northwest side that used to be a cornfield and am still in exploration mode, but eventually I’ll buy a house.”

While it’s his first public sector job, he and his director, Mike Grigbsy – who also moved from Texas — and Mayor Paul TenHaken all bring private sector experience to city government, he said.

“This is a very technology-forward administration,” he said. “And my role involves reaching out across the city and looking at – from a technology perspective – what we can do to ultimately provide better services for the community.”

He also has found it easy to connect since moving back, he said.

“Even though I came in November and it was colder and COVID and everything, I was still able to start connecting pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s growing, and even in the last six years, the city is much more diverse, and there’s so much going on, so much growth, which is part of the reason I wanted to move back too.”

Ready to find an opportunity that’s right for you in Sioux Falls? Click here to get started. 

Logistics Companies in Expansion Mode Find Fast Success at Foundation Park

Nordica Warehouses & Lineage Logistics are in expansion mode

It started with 200,000 square feet.

Then an additional 105,000 square feet.

And Nordica Warehouses wasn’t done yet.

In the past year, it has added another 200,000 square feet of warehouse space at its Foundation Park location in northwest Sioux Falls.

“So we’ve grown a little bit,” president Dan Afdahl said.

“And it’s not full. But it’s getting there.”

Nordica has space for another 105,000-square-foot building, “and I would say within the next year or two at the most we’ll probably add that,” Afdahl said.

The success of Nordica highlights multiple advantages enjoyed by the logistics industry in Sioux Falls as a whole and at Foundation Park specifically.

It offers rare access to rail transportation, sits near the intersection of two interstates and has established infrastructure to accelerate building.

“The early success of this industry at Foundation Park has been fantastic,” said Dean Dziedzic, vice president at the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“It’s very expensive to get into this business, and so many businesses want to use a third-party provider, that companies making the investment in warehousing and logistics are seeing demand for their services.”

If you want to build a big building, there just aren’t any building sites around. There’s dirt, but you have to have the infrastructure – roads and utilities – and that’s what’s out there (Foundation Park).

Dan Afdahl, President, Nordica Warehouses

In addition to Nordica, Lineage Logistics is in expansion mode.

The Michigan-based logistics company is a global industry leader that earlier this year acquired Win Chill, which was the inaugural business at Foundation Park when it opened in 2018.

Lineage Logistics is made up of newer cold chain industry players as well as local and regional family businesses.

Its current expansion will add about 130,000 square feet, bringing the facility to more than 450,000 square feet of freezer storage.

 

“Their master plan was to get to as much as 800,000 square feet, so they can still put more out there, plus we have additional land to the west, so there would be opportunity to add on to meet demand,” Dziedzic said.

For Nordic, the 500,000 square feet at the Foundation Park operation represents about half of its total warehousing in Sioux Falls. Adding more will require more land.

“If you want to build a big building, there just aren’t any building sites around. There’s dirt, but you have to have the infrastructure – roads and utilities – and that’s what’s out there,” Afdahl said of Foundation Park.

The company’s growth is being driven primarily by new clients, with about 25 percent coming as current customers expand. Nordica specializes in storing cardboard boxes and other raw materials going to manufacturing plants.

What we’re seeing in terms of our development pipeline is interest from bigger users looking for larger parcels and planning more square footage than we’ve historically seen in Sioux Falls.

Dean Dziedzic, Vice President of Economic Development, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

 

“We’re kind of the only show of that kind for warehousing in the region,“ Afdahl said.

Foundation Park has land available, but it’s being spoken for quickly.

Amazon has its new fulfillment center under construction, and CJ Foods plans to break ground later this year on its food processing facility on the north end of the development park.

There are four sites remaining that have rail access, and more property will be opened up as the north end of the park is developed with infrastructure this year.

“What we’re seeing in terms of our development pipeline is interest from bigger users looking for larger parcels and planning more square footage than we’ve historically seen in Sioux Falls,” Dziedzic said.

“And we are getting thin on nonrail sites, so we do need to expand north of the tracks. We probably can’t get there soon enough. Back in 2015, we were standing on a gravel road looking across the landscape at a lot of cornfields.”

The success of the park likely means additional opportunities for existing businesses that support industry, such as Nordica.

“They’re selling land and developing more land, and they’re bringing in people who all could be customers for me,” Afdahl said. “So I’m glad they’re doing it.”

A Transformational TIF

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation (SFDF) has worked with the City of Sioux Falls (City) for the past year to establish a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) at Foundation Park. The TIF will help create 460-acres of shovel-ready industrial land located primarily north of the rail tracks. When the Park was created in 2015, the SFDF partnered with a consortium of banks to establish a line of credit to be able to construct the infrastructure necessary to develop the southern portion of the Park. The SFDF intentionally left the northern portion undeveloped until there was enough demand to justify development.

With the announcement from Amazon, the Foundation Board determined it needed to begin developing the area north of the tracks to be able to accommodate additional large users on non-rail sites. In consultation with the City, the SFDF began the process of establishing TIF District #23, the Foundation Park North TIF.

Essentially, the TIF allows the SFDF to utilize the future growth in property tax revenue from the district for TIF eligible expenses. The process involves establishing the assessed base value of all the property within the district before improvements and an assessed value after infrastructure build-out and private investment. The difference between these two values is referred to as the increment. Companies that build in the district pay 100 percent of their property taxes. These new tax revenues, the increment, are used over time to directly finance the TIF eligible costs within the district.

TIFs are a strategic process to finance large scale developments like Foundation Park North. It will provide the SFDF with developable land to sell, allow us to work with the City over time to install infrastructure, and provide for marketable shovel-ready sites moving forward. By having the infrastructure completed, we will create an ideal situation for additional tenants in the future.

Included in TIF eligible costs are site grading, access roads, sewer and water lines, drainage plans, detention ponds, electrical and gas line extensions, and an economic competitiveness fund to allow for flexibility within the district for future prospect needs. Grading on Foundation Park North could begin as early as this fall; with completion of all infrastructure planned by 2025.

In short, being able to use Tax Increment Financing to introduce 460-acres of shovel-ready industrial land at Foundation Park takes our community to the next level. It allows our community to be competitive in attracting, retaining, and expanding businesses in Sioux Falls. Additionally, it allows the SFDF flexibility when negotiating with companies and planning for future land acquisition.

I commend Mayor TenHaken and Councilors Brekke, Erickson, Jensen, Kiley, Neitzert, Selberg and Soehl; and City leadership for their willingness to partner with the SFDF to support economic development in Sioux Falls. This is an exceptionally busy time for the SFDF. Thank you to Bob, Dean, Denise, Mike, Cory, all the SFDF team, our bank consortium – First PREMIER Bank, CorTrust Bank, First Bank & Trust, First Dakota National Bank, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, Great Western Bank, MetaBank/Central Bank, and U.S. Bank; and all who help us make things happen. Keep up the good work.

Story by

Pat Costello

Board Chair

Foundation Park: Activity, Activity, Activity

The momentum at Foundation Park continues as represented by the following activities.

Foundation Court – The second phase of Foundation Court will complete the loop back to Marion Road. The project represents infrastructure of water, sewer, paving and lighting. It also opens the final phases of Foundation Park South with additional build-ready sites. The project is on track to be completed by the end of August this year.

Amazon – If you are anywhere near the northwest part of Sioux Falls, you certainly will see Amazon’s distribution center breaking the skyline. It seems this enormous building is being erected in record time, with several hundred local contractors on site.

Marion Road – Due to the Amazon facility, the City of Sioux Falls is currently making improvements to Marion Road. This will include additional turning lanes and signalization. As Marion continues north, the City is planning more improvements to Marion Road that will extend all the way to 258th Street.

Win Chill – Foundation Park’s anchor tenant continues to grow and expand. Their current expansion will add an additional 125,000 square feet of cold storage warehousing and represents their third phase since breaking ground on 54 acres in May of 2017.

Grading – It seems this is a never-ending task at Foundation Park. If you are out near the Park you will notice continuous grading. The grading will open more land for sale and potentially new tenants soon.

CJ Foods/Schwans – Engineering and site plans for this 700,000 square foot facility on 140 acres continue to move forward. This project will require infrastructure to be installed north of the railroad tracks. In the coming 12-24 months expect to see roads, water, sewer, utilities, fiber and again plenty of grading taking place.

Pipeline – We remain extremely pleased with the level of prospect activity and inquiries received with interest in Foundation Park. We would not be surprised to see more announcements as we enter spring and summer this year.

Become a Member

As a small non-profit organization, the Foundation relies on the financial support of our member businesses and long-time supporters. From local start-ups to major corporate employers, every dollar of financial support allows us to carry out our mission to create quality economic growth and workforce development in the region.

Development Foundation Members, past and present, are part of a legendary organization that has played a major role in our region’s growth since 1954. Your membership support has made and continues to make an impact on the growth and development of our community now and into the future; and on each and every person that calls our area home.

Member benefits have expanded with opportunities to participate in our workforce attraction and development efforts and programing, access to growth and retention advocates, site location assistance, information resources, and international trade services. Our online membership directory, traditional or virtual groundbreaking ceremonies hosted by your Development Foundation, and invitations to our annual meeting and WIN Summit provide you with additional marketing and networking opportunities.

The Board of Directors would like to thank the business and individuals that have renewed their membership during 2021 – partners in maintaining and renewing our regional economy now and beyond! We encourage other members of our corporate community to consider joining our efforts as we continue to make Sioux Falls one of the best places to work, live and enjoy life.

Join us! Call 339-0103 or email info@siouxfalls.com today. Become a Member. Be a part of the legend and legacy; be a part of our collective future, be a part of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Spirit of Sioux Falls Scholarship Funds Available

Application deadline July 21, 2021

Each year the Sioux Falls Development Foundation awards up to four Spirit of Sioux Falls Scholarships. Business students who have completed at least one year of higher education are eligible.

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 for these four $3,500 scholarships. The deadline is July 1, 2021.

The Spirit of Sioux Falls Scholarships are administered by the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation. The scholarship application is available for download on-line through the Community Foundation website.

Skilled Labor/Quality of Life Make Smaller Cities Ideal for New Corporate Model

According to the results of Area Development’s 35th annual Corporate Survey, the availability of skilled labor is still the number-one priority for corporate executives when looking to locate a new facility or expand an existing one. What has, however, increased dramatically in importance over the 35-year course of the survey is quality of life. This may be responsible for many companies choosing smaller cities with a good quality of life for their next location project rather than larger metro areas.

In fact, quality of life considerations, which are so important in attracting skilled labor, rank higher in this year’s Corporate Survey when compared to universally important factors such as labor costs and occupancy and construction costs. The focus on quality of life is likely to continue as companies reimagine their workplaces and seek to cater to a much more mobile workforce. Quality of life and “quality of place” are seen as an indicator of whether a new location will be a match for a company’s existing corporate culture and values.

Of course, cost factors — which only ranked marginally lower than quality of life in the survey — are still of primary importance. This is especially so as the pandemic has forced companies to cut costs to boost their bottom line. They’re looking closely at the tax impacts and incentives opportunities in new geographies, while keeping an eye on realigning their supply chains to prevent the disruptions experienced during the pandemic. This will help to mitigate risks and cut costs by positioning them closer to their end markets.

The Sioux Falls region is ideally positioned to take advantage of these new trends as our communities do an excellent job of building quality of place while controlling other costs of development. With the creation of Foundation Park and the ability to live in the community of your choice, we are finding these new selling points to be in our favor. Keep up the great work everyone.

Talent Attraction Survey 2021 Encourages Greater Support Among South Dakota’s Manufacturers

In late January, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation conducted a pulse survey involving 322 organizations across six industries and in organizations of different sizes to learn more about recruiting difficulty, skills shortages, and the recruiting and training tactics used in response to these challenges. Central to this survey were answers to questions asked including,

What types of roles and experience levels are the most difficult to fill?

What are the most common strategies and tools organizations are using to deal with recruiting challenges?

What recruiting geographies were the most popular? Are there any parallels between recruiting geographies and time spent recruiting?

Ninety-one percent of organizations shared positive experiences including “Talent attraction programs have helped us understand how better to compete,” and “Denise worked with our talent acquisition people to develop a targeted campaign outside Sioux Falls.”

Financial, health, and technology organizations shared low to moderate recruiting challenges. They identified support needed at the regional and national levels. These organizations also participated the most in the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s talent and workforce programming.

SFDF’s talent programming opens so many doors for us.

Aimee Miritello, Manager of Human Resource at Marmon Energy

General construction and manufacturing industries reported the highest difficulty recruiting experiences. Manufacturers shared they have strong employee retention rates, substantial benefits, and good talent management processes. Most were recruited locally and felt they could support developing talent due to solid internal teams and natural mentoring between new and existing employees.   

Based on feedback,  SFDF partnered with the Govenor’s Office of Economic Development and South Dakota Manufacturing Technology Solutions on “Talent Attraction and Implementing Workforce Solutions,” a webcast moderated by Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development, to communicate resources available to help manufacturers.

Information about programs, including Career Connections, automation and robotics workshops, and SD Works, were shared with nearly 300 organizations. Discussions about programs, such as Talent Draft Day on September 23, encourage additional conversations with businesses, including Peter Vaillant, VP of Operations at UltiMed, Inc., and Aimee Miritello, Manager of Human Resource at Marmon Energy. Miritello shared positive feedback about current programs, such as Talent Draft Day Webcast 2020, while signing up to partner for the second year of Career Connections in August 2021. “SFDF’s talent programming opens so many doors for us.”

Other companies in attendance included 3M, BAE Systems, Daktronics, Henkel, Malloy Electric, Marmon Energy, MidAmerican Energy Company, Muth Electric, Inc., Orion Land Mark, Raven Industries, Inc., and Sioux Valley Energy. To view this webcast, please visit SFDF’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/developsf/.

Thank You Existing Industries!

Existing industries and businesses in the Sioux Falls area provide jobs, support community needs and drive our economy. On March 18th, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation hosted an existing industry appreciation event to say thank you.  Attending businesses enjoyed an afternoon of golfing at Great Shots and watching the tip-off of the NCAA basketball tournament. During the event, businesses also had the opportunity to network with our partner organizations from the state and local level that offer services geared towards helping businesses grow and expand in the Sioux Falls area. Thank you for all you do!

Groundbreaking Season is Here

Our favorite time of the year: Groundbreaking Season

If your business is planning a construction expansion or a new facility in Sioux Falls, contact the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Over the past six decades, the Development Foundation has hosted hundreds of groundbreakings. We make it easy for you by providing you with a commemorative mini-shovel for display, bringing the gold shovels for the digging ceremony, inviting media and the business community, and helping you to prepare an agenda for the event. For more information, or to schedule a groundbreaking, call Megan Jansick at 339-0103 or email meganj@siouxfalls.com.

Megan Jansick
Want a groundbreaking? Contact

Megan Jansick

Director of Marketing, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

President’s Report: Forward Sioux Falls Powers Ahead

President’s Report

Forward Sioux Falls Powers Ahead

Since its inception in 1987 by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, the Forward Sioux Falls program has provided the mechanism and resources needed to address critical economic development projects in the region. Forward Sioux Falls 2026 continues that brilliant tradition and is off to a great start after the official kickoff last month.

FSF 2026 will continue the strong tradition of providing resources in addressing critical issues facing Sioux Falls and investors are lining up to be a part of the solution. Working from a strong foundation formed by FSF 2021 in developing Foundation Park and conducting the Strategic Workforce Action Agenda, the Development Foundation and the Chamber have designed the next five-year plan to achieve maximum benefit for the region.

Talent Attraction, Retention & Development

  • External Talent Recruitment
  • YPN Marketing, Talent Draft Day, Talent Tours, Talent Rebound, Cyber Recruitment
  • Internal Talent Development
  • Career Connections, Your Future STEM, Internships & Apprenticeships, Special Populations
  • Business Partnerships
  • Recruitment Council, WIN Summit, WIN Engagement Platform, Sioux Falls Thrive
  • Housing Partnership

Business Retention, Expansion & Attraction

  • Existing Industry Retention & Expansion
  • Comprehensive Marketing
  • Existing Industry, Targeted Industries
  • International Trade Programming
  • Foundation Park Support

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

  • Cyber/IT Park
  • USD Discovery District
  • Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship

Business Advocacy, Airport & Quality of Place

  • Innovation Center of Excellence – Leadership, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Advocacy & Policy Development
  • Future Sioux Falls Strategic Plan
  • Airport Marketing

Forward Sioux Falls is now in its public phase and we invite all Sioux Falls businesses to be a part of our future. Please contact Mike Lynch at ForwardSiouxFalls.com or 605-373-2008 to discuss your participation.

Bob Mundt
Story by

Bob Mundt

President/CEO, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

Forward Sioux Falls Launches Public Campaign

The public portion of the Forward Sioux Falls 2026 campaign is well underway, as over 130 volunteers have been assembled to broaden the reach of investors and augment economic and workforce development efforts over the next five years.

Co-chairs Dave Rozenboom (First PREMIER Bank), Dave Flicek (Avera McKennan Hospital and University Center) and Paul Hanson (Sanford Health), as well as Honorary co-chair Mayor Paul TenHaken have assembled a team of 39 community leaders to serve on the campaign cabinet.

A public campaign launch was held on February 23rd at Southeast Technical College, where the co-chairs conveyed both the initiatives that will be extended into the next program, as well as new initiatives that will help elevate the region’s economy.

Funding for the following core initiatives will be extended into Forward Sioux Falls 2026:

  • Talent development, attraction and retention
  • Business attraction, retention and expansion
  • SiouxFalls.com
  • Foundation Park
  • USD Discovery District
  • Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Sioux Empire Housing Partnership
  • Sioux Falls Thrive
  • YPN
  • Business Advocacy

40-person campaign cabinet

New Forward Sioux Falls 2026 initiatives include:

A Housing Fund will involve a partnership among the City of Sioux Falls, Sioux Empire Housing Partnership (SEHP), US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and others to create a fund and provide resources to address our workforce accessible housing needs.

Partnering with local businesses from a variety of industry sectors, Career Connections will provide high-potential at-risk high school juniors and seniors with a career exploration and mentorship opportunity and financial assistance for concurrent dual-credit course work to help them begin their post-secondary education and career journey.

Support for REACH to expand their workplace literacy program.

Partnering with Dakota State University, local tech companies and the City of Sioux Falls, Forward Sioux Falls will provide seed funding to create a visionary Cyber/IT Park in Sioux Falls.

The Innovation Center of Excellence, housed within the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber, will provide an opportunity for the public and private sectors to partner, collaborate and deliver innovative programming focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Center will also support Next Level Leadership Academy, New Ideas, Think Tank, and others.

Funding for our next “Future Sioux Falls” Strategic Plan, a community-wide long-range vision and strategic planning process.

The campaign is scheduled to run through June and to date, over $10.4 million of the $15 million cash goal has been raised.

Introducing…the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance

The next chapter in regional growth is here.

The Lincoln County Economic Development Association and the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association have combined to form Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, an economic development association that will serve the region.

“It’s about telling our story and building brand identity and working together in alliance,” executive director Jesse Fonkert said.

“Our name change and combined organization will help us better serve our communities but also better communicate what we’re all about. Many people thought we worked for the counties, when we are independent, and we support regional economic development.”

The timing for both consolidation and expansion is right, he continued.

“There’s momentum for the Sioux Falls region in general,” Fonkert said. “We’re one of the fastest growing metros in the country, and we need to talk about that more because all our communities play a role in that growth and they’re positioned to help drive it even more.”

The foundation for the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance began three decades ago when mayors of Minnehaha County communities got together with support from business leaders in Sioux Falls and formed the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association in 1991.

It’s about telling our story and building brand identity and working together in alliance.

Jesse Fonkert, SMGA Executive Director

“It just really was building off the success of Sioux Falls and understanding that a regional partnership would give everyone more visibility and more success than trying to go it alone,” said Jeff Eckhoff, who became the association’s executive director a few years later.

“Some of the first months I was on the job, we would have meetings down in Lincoln County talking about the organization and how it might look and operate.”

The Lincoln County Economic Development Association was formed in 1996.

Early successes included facilitating a public-private partnership to develop the Corson Industrial Park. The associations also helped support new and expanding employers in the respective communities from Sioux Steel to Terex and Adams Thermal Systems. It even helped bring a grocery store and bank to Humboldt.

“In the early days, it was all about land, buildings, availability, location, and those things still matter,” Eckhoff said. “But the thing that was really changing as I left is the importance of workforce. It used to be that on the first visit (a company) rarely even talked about workforce, or it was way down on the list. Now, it’s one of the first things you talk about.”

The “people” aspect of the Sioux Falls region has become a point of pride, said Nick Fosheim, who led LCEDA/MCEDA for seven years beginning in 2012.

You’re going to see more of our organization, telling the story of our communities. They’re great places to live, work and invest your time and resources and dreams, and we’re going to do our best to support them and build a strong alliance.

“If you look around the region, there are more people whose job is focused on economic development in their community, and that didn’t exist 10 years ago, even five years ago,” he said. “So I think that’s a sign that we see opportunity and that we know we have to approach it as a team … and we’re putting the strategy behind what we’re doing as an organization.”

The Sioux Metro Growth Alliance is a key piece of that, he added.

“You get these communities talking to each other about their successes, their challenges, some of the questions they have, and they can learn from each other, and they can celebrate with each other.”

The new Sioux Metro also is positioned to reach out to communities in the true metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, which includes McCook and Turner counties.

“We’d love to find ways to include those municipalities and county governments in our future,” Fonkert said. “We’re just looking for ways to serve, and that’s our job. Economic development is about service.”

A nine-person executive board will help guide the combined organization.

Additionally, a membership board allows for greater representation and the election of the leadership board.

“We’re excited to bring in C-suite level leadership board members that have a regional presence to help drive our efforts,” Fonkert said.

“You’re going to see more of our organization, telling the story of our communities. They’re great places to live, work and invest your time and resources and dreams, and we’re going to do our best to support them and build a strong alliance.”

A new website, siouxmetro.com, is in development and will launch this spring.

Jesse Fonkert
in the meantime, reach out to

Jesse Fonkert

Executive Director, Sioux Metro Growth Alliance

Builders Bringing 70 New Home Lots to Valley Springs

A (17 residential lot) development that hadn’t seen action in seven years, and we filled that up.

The plan was that builders Ron and Lori Kuipers would move to Valley Springs, build a house as part of a larger development and call it home.

“That was the intention,” Ron Kuipers acknowledged. “But everything we’ve built has sold.”

So for now, the owners of Homestead Construction are living in what he calls a “shous” – a shed converted into a house – while helping their new community take shape around them.

“When we came five years ago, there was nobody building here,” he said. “That’s either a good thing or a bad thing.”

They quickly found out it was an opportunity waiting to be seized.

They purchased 17 residential lots on the southwest side of town from “a development that hadn’t seen action in seven years, and we filled that up,” Kuipers said. “It was either leave town or keep going.”

They decided to keep going.

Their new 30-acre development, Homestead at Valley View, is just to the south of where they were building, and they hope to build on their success.

“We’ll have about 70 homes,” Kuipers said.

“We decided to start one over the winter, and we’re close to having it done, but that’s the only inventory available, so there’s definitely a need.”

You read that right: It’s the only available home in Valley Springs.

The community of about 760 people as of the 2010 census has grown steadily in recent years, with demand from residents looking to take advantage of more affordable living and a small-town feel within the Brandon Valley School District.

Valley Springs is absolutely a community on the rise

Jesse Fonkert, SMGA Executive Director

“Valley Springs is absolutely a community on the rise,” said Jesse Fonkert, executive director of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

“The investment that Homestead Construction is making to bring much-needed homes to this area is such a win – for them, for residents looking to move in or move up and for overall economic growth of the community.”

Valley Springs “is just a tight-knit, close, friendly community,” Kuipers agreed. “You’re five minutes from Brandon, 15 minutes from the east side of Sioux Falls and about 20 minutes from the west side. It takes you longer to get across Sioux Falls.”

The Kuipers also are setting aside 6 acres of their development for commercial use.

“The intention is to draw a convenience store or Dollar General or something like that,” he said. “And the property is along the highway, so as even more people move in, we think it will be an attractive commercial location.”

Homestead Construction has finished water and sewer infrastructure, and the plan is to build streets and be ready for curb and gutter this spring.

There are 25 lots ready to sell now, ranging from $40,000 to $48,000. There are options for twin homes as well as single family.

“We have one sold, and we’re starting construction in April, so we’ll probably see three houses going up in April because we’re planning a spec house and working on plans with another client to start.”

Buyers can work with any builder, he said. Homes likely will range from $300,000 to $600,000.

“We’ve specialized in the move-up or second home,” Kuipers said.

As for their own home? That’s still in the plan too.

“Builders are always the last ones to get their house. But we do have intentions on building our house this year,” he said. “We’re just enjoying being part of the community and going about it having fun.”