From Virginia to Sioux Falls, new housing leader focuses on improved affordability

She was too young to realize it at the time, but the woman now tasked with helping improve access to housing in the Sioux Falls area once was homeless herself.

“I just remember camping a lot for a summer,” said Larissa Deedrich, who recently moved to Sioux Falls from Virginia to become the new executive director of the Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission.

Larissa Deedrich

“My dad had taken a new job as a police officer in Illinois, and it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that my mom said we were homeless that summer. We’d camped the whole summer while he worked to try and save up money for a security deposit.”

Deedrich’s own passion for serving others led her to a career in affordable housing, first at a housing authority in Illinois, then leadership positions in Wisconsin and Virginia.

“I feel like stable housing is the first step in helping someone go down that path of self-sufficiency,” she said.

“If you’re always in crisis mode, if you don’t have a stable place to lay your head at night, everything else takes a back seat: your health, your job, your family. Trying to find a place to stay is crucial.”

Deedrich brings with her a record of collaboration to provide stable, affordable housing options and complementary programming to help with financial literacy and stability.

Larissa Deedrich talking on phone in office

“I was at a housing conference, and an executive recruiter talked to me about Sioux Falls and said: ‘I think it’s right up your alley. They’re looking for an executive director who is innovative and wants to create community partnerships and grow programs.’ It was a hard decision, but we’d done so much in Virginia, and it was stable, and I wanted to take on another agency and grow the same process.”

As she considered the community, the vibrancy of Sioux Falls stood out, she said.

Larissa Deedrich in meeting

“I met a lot of local community leaders, and what clinched it for me was that everyone knew we had to work together,” Deedrich said. “I’ve been in communities where that’s not always easy, and everyone here has a plan to support each other and work together to reach our goals, and that’s what I really liked about the community.”

Sioux Falls Housing helps people find stable public housing, while at the same time its Affordable Housing Solutions arm is developing more accessible housing in the Sioux Falls area.

Larissa Deedrich in front of Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission sign

“We’re not just talking about very low or even low-income families,” Deedrich said. “People who are teachers, first responders, people who can’t necessarily go into the homes being built for $650,000 but need workforce housing, and that’s really what we want to grow and develop in Sioux Falls.”

Deedrich and her husband, Curt, moved to Sioux Falls as she began her new role earlier this year. For now, their three dogs are with them, and the goal is to find a home that also accommodates their two horses.

Curt, a small-business owner, is looking for a commercial space to grow his sign business.

“He’s originally from Illinois and is excited to come back to the Midwest and be in a community with a lot of great options for business. It’s very vibrant, and we like the ambiance,” she said.

“One of our favorite things to do is go to the Washington Pavilion. We’ve seen a couple shows, we like the nightlife in the downtown area, and that’s a lot of fun.”

The Deedrich family made a strong choice in moving to Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“It’s a big move to come to a new community as an established career professional, but I think Larissa already is seeing why innovative leaders are so impressed when they discover Sioux Falls,” she said.

“And soon, Curt will also discover what a fantastic place this is as a small-business owner and how many resources and relationships you’re able to access.”

Also critically, Deedrich’s work in accessible housing is key to the community’s broader goals, Guzzetta said.

“We’re committed to Sioux Falls becoming a place where you have even more options for where to live,” she said.

“That means an increased focus on workforce housing so that you’re able to become a homeowner or find a fit in an apartment that meets your household’s needs, fits your budget and allows you to continue to grow here. We’re taking a collaborative approach as Larissa said, and we’re excited to welcome her to our community.”

To learn more about growing your career in Sioux Falls, email

Chairman’s Report: A Tradition of Progress

By: Ryan Boschee, 2024 Board Chair

I am honored to serve this year as the Chair of the Board for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Our organization has served as the catalyst for economic development efforts since the 1950s and will continue to be a valuable partner in development efforts moving forward.

As we enter 2024, Foundation Park continues to be the right decision for Sioux Falls. Conceived in 2015 as a partnership effort to lure a large manufacturing project to Sioux Falls, the Development Foundation worked with the City, the State and Forward Sioux Falls to develop the 1,000-acre industrial park. The purpose was to attract new companies and help existing companies to grow and expand, which would raise the tax base and create jobs and opportunities in the region. In 2017, we were able to attract our first tenant and the growth continued.

Today, Foundation Park generates over $6 million in property taxes annually, has contributed over $12 million in development fees and is home to over 2,500 jobs. With over 500 acres remaining to sell and with CJ Foods and Avera/Owens Minor preparing to build this summer, the growth and development continues, promising to double the jobs and continue adding tax base and fees for the community.

In addition, the Foundation continues to work with existing businesses in helping to grow their businesses; assisting 21 companies with growth and expansion plans last year. This has led to Site Selection Magazine ranking Sioux Falls #1 in the country per capita for new and expansion projects.

Workforce development has also been a key element of our efforts. Since 2018, the Development Foundation has led efforts to recruit and retain talent in the Sioux Falls region. Working with employers, universities, tech schools and local high schools, the Foundation has created a pipeline of talent for local employers and helped grow our labor and talent pool.

What our forefathers started over 60 years ago is thriving today, making Sioux Falls a growing and thriving metropolitan area now recognized nationally for responsible growth. The Development Foundation is in a good position to continue our progress and will look for new and creative ways to help the Sioux Falls region thrive. I look forward to leading the Board this year and to working with staff and community leadership to seek new solutions to our challenges.

2024 Legislative Update

By: Mitch Rave, Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Public Policy

During the 2024 South Dakota Legislative Session, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber advocated on several exciting issues that continue to promote the business community by advocating for economic growth, education, workforce, and so much more. Below, you can read about a handful of initiatives that were passed by the 2024 Legislative body that the Chamber was actively engaged on this session.

Economic Growth


One of the biggest wins for the Chamber this year was securing $10 million in funding for a grant program that will allow airports across the state to access dollars to improve and expand their current facilities. This is an exciting step, as the Sioux Falls Regional Airport is currently planning to expand their terminal and gate space to accommodate a continuously growing volume of flights.

There were also exciting developments regarding water and wastewater. Over $130 million in American Rescue Plan dollars were appropriated to update and expand wastewater and freshwater infrastructure across South Dakota. Thanks to this major investment, communities across South Dakota will be able to continue to accommodate the growth we are seeing both in the business community and with our increased number of residents.

Carbon Pipelines, Corn Producers, and Landowner Rights

During the session, there were over a dozen bills introduced on each side of the issue, and at the end of session three major pieces of legislation were passed and signed by Governor Noem. SB 201, HB 1185, and HB 1186. Together, these three bills create curbs and gutters around surveying regulations, landowner and county compensation for the project, and protections for private property owners as well. The goal of these pieces of legislation is to ensure that South Dakota remains open for business for large scale linear projects, especially ones that provide such a benefit to our agriculture industry, but also gives our private property owners the rights and protections they deserve. Thanks to these compromises, the agriculture industry may be able to see considerable increases in their products at market if the project goes through as planned.

Education and Workforce

A 4% increase in funding for our K-12 education system was approved for Fiscal Year 2025, along with SB 127 which provides a targeted ongoing benchmark for teacher salary increases. Together these two initiatives show continued support for both our educators and children in South Dakota.

SB 45 provides an appropriation to create a new curriculum for quantum computing at some of our South Dakota regental universities. This will allow our students to step into an emerging industry and be on the cutting edge of the next generation of computer sciences.

On the topic of the workforce, this year the legislature passed some additional licensure compacts in the healthcare industry to help garner more workforce in the long-term care space. Also, a deep dive into the issues surrounding available and affordable childcare will be addressed this legislative offseason. Legislators and stakeholders will get together to determine what steps can be taken to help alleviate this issue felt across the state and in every industry.


I want to thank all our members for being so vocal and engaged with our public policy team here at the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber during this legislative session. It is only with your continued input, engagement, and support that we can be effective advocates for the business community at every level of government.

President’s report: Riverline Development, Skilled Labor & Quality of Life Make Sioux Falls Ideal for New Corporate Model

By: Bob Mundt, President/CEO

According to the results of Area Development’s 38th 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 38-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.

The proposed Riverline District and the development of a new “City Center” anchoring downtown at that location combined with the proposal to transition the existing convention center into an indoor recreation space for children and families is truly visionary. This forward-thinking plan for the future addresses multiple factors in building that quality of life that is so important to corporate expansions and locations as well as helping to recruit more talent and skilled labor to our region.

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.

Summit League Championships delivers slam-dunk for workforce development

In between the basketball games at the recent Summit League Basketball Championships, some points were being scored in the name of workforce development.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation hosted multiple events to connect students attending the tournament with reasons to consider Sioux Falls for the next step in their education or careers.

From an alumni panel to networking events, students made connections and took away a new perspective on the community.

Click below for a look at what happened:

Weekend at the Summit 2024

Enhancing Economic Growth through Strategic Talent Development in Sioux Falls

In an era of unprecedented economic growth and diversification, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation is proactively aligning its workforce and talent development strategies with the evolving needs of the region. Our deliberate focus on pivotal occupations and industry sectors represents a comprehensive approach to bolstering a dynamic and diversified marketplace.

Targeted Engagement with Key Growth Sectors

Looking forward to 2027, our strategic initiatives are concentrated on sectors experiencing significant growth within the Sioux Falls MSA. These sectors are vital for cultivating a well-rounded economic environment:

  • Business and Finance Operations
  • Computer and Mathematical Occupations
  • Educational Services
  • Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
  • Management, Construction, and Extraction Occupations
  • Transportation and Materials Moving Occupations

It is noteworthy that roles in these areas typically offer remuneration exceeding the regional average annual wage, as indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for Q4 2023. This emphasizes the critical importance of these sectors in enhancing the socio-economic fabric of our community.

Initiatives Tailored to Immediate and Long-term Talent Needs

Our programming is designed to address both current and future talent requirements:

  1. Connecting Talent to Opportunity: Initiatives such as Career Connections and INTERN Sioux Falls are pivotal in linking employers with the emerging workforce, facilitating direct access to significant employment and internship opportunities in key sectors for our high school and tertiary education students.
  2. Enhancing Skills for Contemporary and Future Needs: The UPSKILL Sioux Falls program is pivotal in addressing the immediate demand for skilled labor across critical industries, including construction, healthcare, and transportation, by offering reimbursement for eligible training expenses. This initiative is essential for meeting current industry needs and elevating the workforce’s skill level.
  3. Cultivating a Future-Ready Workforce: Our Your Future STEM initiative targets students in grades 5-8, aiming to spark interest in STEM careers early. This is part of our strategic vision to prepare for long-term talent needs, especially in the expanding bio and life sciences sectors.

In April 2024, the introduction of a new Talent Development Advisory Board will strengthen the connection between employers, educational institutions, and students. This initiative is designed to align educational pathways with workplace demands, ensuring a workforce that is not only prepared for the future but also ahead of industry trends.

An Invitation to Collaborate

As we forge ahead with our talent and workforce development initiatives, we extend an invitation to you to participate in this vital journey. Your engagement and support are crucial to our collective success and the sustained economic prosperity of our community.

For organizations looking for more information about our talent and workforce programming, please reach out to Denise Guzzetta at

UPSKILL Sioux Falls: Driving Workforce Development Forward

Since its inception in 2021, UPSKILL Sioux Falls has been at the forefront of addressing workforce challenges in our community. In a strategic partnership with Southeast Technical College, this initiative rolled out specialized training programs for Class A and Class B Certified Drivers Licenses, significantly bolstering the local talent pool to meet the evolving needs of Sioux Falls businesses.

As we navigate through 2024, the results of these efforts have been nothing short of transformative. Nearly 300 drivers and managers have benefitted from this targeted training, enhancing their skills and advancing their careers. Moreover, the program’s financial incentives have been a game changer for local enterprises. Eligible businesses can receive up to 50% reimbursement for the costs associated with both internal and external training programs. “The reimbursements have enabled us to cross-train our staff more effectively, allowing us to serve our customers with greater efficiency,” commented a local small business owner.

Expanding on its success, UPSKILL Sioux Falls has broadened its horizon to encompass additional critical sectors such as healthcare, construction, and building trades in 2024. This expansion not only diversifies the skill sets within our workforce but also opens up new avenues for employee development and business growth.

Denise Guzzetta, Vice President of Talent and Workforce for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, emphasizes the program’s strategic importance. “By supporting our employers in their efforts to retain and enhance the skills of their workforce in key areas like construction, healthcare, and transportation, we are laying a solid foundation for the sustainable growth of our local economy.”

**A Call to Action for Sioux Falls Businesses**

We encourage local businesses to leverage this unique opportunity to upskill their employees, foster a more dynamic workforce, and contribute to the economic vitality of the Sioux Falls region. Together, we can achieve remarkable milestones in workforce development and ensure a prosperous future for our community.

For more information on how to participate in UPSKILL Sioux Falls and take advantage of training reimbursements, please contact Denise Guzzetta at 605-595-4355 or

Celebrating Our Continued Excellence: SHRM Recertification Through 2026

We are thrilled to announce that the Sioux Falls Development Foundation has once again been honored with the SHRM Provider Recertification, extending our commitment to excellence in employee training through 2026. This prestigious re-endorsement from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) — the world’s largest HR member association — underscores our unwavering dedication to the advancement of human resource and workforce professionals.

Empowerment Through Education

At the heart of our mission is the belief in the transformative power of education. “Education empowers individuals and enables them to advance professionally in their careers,” states Denise Guzzetta, Vice President of Talent and Workforce. Recertification empowers our Talent and Workforce team to persist in offering valuable professional development credits crucial for the ongoing education of HR and workforce professionals.

Continuing Professional Development Opportunities

Year-round, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation is committed to facilitating opportunities for growth and learning. Through our array of webinars for virtual training and the annual WIN in Workforce Summit, we provide indispensable in-person and peer networking opportunities. These platforms not only enrich professional knowledge but also foster connections among workforce professionals keen on maintaining their continuing professional development.

Join Us at the WIN in Workforce Summit on September 24, 2024!

Mark your calendars for the WIN in Workforce Summit on September 24th. This event promises to be an enriching experience for all attendees, offering unparalleled insights into the latest trends and strategies in workforce development.

For more information and to register for the WIN in Workforce Summit, click here.

Let’s continue to grow together, embracing the opportunities that lie ahead with the support of our SHRM certification. Here’s to advancing our professional journeys with confidence and excellence!

Talent Draft Day 2024 returns on March 22

Join Us for a Landmark Event: Talent Draft Day Returns to Ignite Futures and Forge Connections!

Mark your calendars! Due to overwhelming enthusiasm and success in past years, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation is thrilled to announce the return of the Talent Draft Day on March 22, now in its groundbreaking fourth year. This signature event has become a pivotal moment for both aspiring young professionals and forward-thinking businesses in the Sioux Falls region.

What Makes Talent Draft Day Unmissable?

Talent Draft Day is not just an event; it’s a vibrant ecosystem designed to bridge the gap between the workforce of tomorrow and today’s employment opportunities. This year, we’re rolling out an even more immersive experience, tailored to spark curiosity, ignite ambition, and foster meaningful connections:

  • Hands-On Technology Demonstrations: Experience the future of work with live demonstrations by leading employers and educators. Dive into the world of skilled and professional trades through engaging role plays and interactive sessions that bring career possibilities to life.
  • Speed Networking Extravaganza: Accelerate your networking with rapid-fire sessions that connect students directly with top employers. Discover apprenticeships, internships, and career paths you never knew existed in a fast-paced and dynamic setting.

This is your golden opportunity to align with the future of your industry, share your vision with eager young minds, and potentially meet your next star employee or intern.

Talent Thursday with Minnehaha Country Club

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, March 14, 2024, we caught up with Bret Coad, the Chief Operating Officer for the Minnehaha Country Club. He shared about summer and seasonal opportunities, and detailed how working for the Club can be a great way to build soft skills, relationships with community and business leaders, and more.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here:

Talent Thursday


Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

Talent Thursday with Children’s Home Society

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, March 7, 2024, we caught up with Haley Sanow of the Children’s Home Society. She shares about the various aspects of programming provided by the Children’s Home Society, their investment in their employees, and the current roles they are recruiting for.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here:

Talent Thursday


Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

Sioux Falls a top metro for corporate site selection projects

For companies looking to grow and expand their business, locating in a city and state with a strong workforce and a favorable business climate are top considerations.

In a ranking by Site Selector Magazine, Sioux Falls is the Top Metro Per Capita with a population of 200,000 – 1 million in the country for corporate site selection projects.

“Projects include a 40,000-sq.-ft. expansion by Dakota Digital; a $45 million investment at Smithfield Foods’ pork processing plant; a 50-job commitment by global health care company Owens & Minor to an integrated service center it will share with Avera Health; a $20.4 million service center expansion by Xcel Energy; an investment of $5.1 million by Dakota Fluid Power; a $30 million corporate headquarters, fabrication facility and maintenance facility from Maguire Iron; a $6 million office and warehouse investment from vintage video game reseller CaveGamers; and a $25 million investment by FedEx Freight at a 43-acre site in Foundation Park, which since its founding in 2015 has sold nearly 500 of its more than 950 acres to companies creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in new tax base,” the article releasing the ranking says.

To learn more and see which other metros made the list, click the link below.

SD Trade Provides Valuable Services

By Mike Lynch, program director

In 2023, Forward Sioux Falls joined nearly 30 organizations, along with the State of South Dakota to provide funding for South Dakota Trade (SDT), which focuses on export education, STEP Grant hosting, international trade consulting and trade missions.

In its inaugural year, SDT has achieved several key milestones including:

  • Procuring $375k in federal grants
  • Providing continuing education to 70+ trade practitioners
  • Hosting delegates from over 10 countries
  • Providing over 400 hours of free and confidential consulting to small businesses
  • Conducting the state’s first trade mission in 10 years which generated more than a 60x return on investment (over $1.5 million in direct sales). In total, SDT has directly supported more than $3 million in sales for South Dakota companies this year

If any Forward Sioux Falls investors desire assistance with any aspect of international trade, we encourage them to utilize the services SDT provides. Click here for contact information and to learn more about SDT programming.

Talent Thursday with LifeScape

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that spotlights talent and workforce in the Sioux Falls area by sharing the stories of young professionals in our community.

For Thursday, February 29, 2024, we caught up with Nicole Jensen of LifeScape. She shares all about the opportunities within their organization. If you’re interested in serving others and making a difference in our community, be sure to listen in!

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CT on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here:

Talent Thursday


Forward Sioux Falls is a unique, innovative program designed to grow and improve the Sioux Falls region. Created through a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, we work to outline strategic initiatives to grow jobs, businesses and quality of life.

Workforce win: How Gage Brothers welcomed ‘flood’ of female production workers

Krysta Widman had a theory – and the human resources manager headed to the production floor to prove it.

“When I first started working here nearly a decade ago, we didn’t have any women in production or really out in the plant,” said Widman, who works at Gage Brothers, a Sioux Falls-based leader in precast concrete construction.

Krysta Widman at Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls SD

“Women mostly only worked in the office, and I really wanted to see more women working here.”

So after giving birth to her son, she came back from maternity leave and for one day took on a new job at Gage.

“We always said that to do this job you had to lift 50 to 100 pounds, and what we found out is you actually don’t have to be super strong to do this job,” Widman said.

“You’re not lifting 50 to 100 pounds on a regular basis. You’re lifting 20 to 30 pounds. And I said, ‘If I can do this job, anyone can do this job.’ Was I sore? Oh yes. It was not easy, but the supervisors and a bunch of other people were coming up to me and saying, ‘Wow, good job.’”

After a day pulling steel cables – “the most difficult part of the job but very possible” – putting bricks into place using form liners and tying rebar, she and the company realized “it’s really not that physical of a job,” Widman said. “What we saw helped us start getting more women in the door.”

Krysta Widman at Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls SD

Fast-forward, and Gage now counts more than 10 percent of its production team as female – with about 30 women working on the floor.

“I’ve been to precast plants literally all over the country and some in Europe, and I don’t see women working on the floor,” president Joe Bunkers said. “It’s very predominantly male-oriented, and very intentionally we moved the needle.”

Beginning with construction of the new plant in northeast Sioux Falls several years ago, Gage put in a full-size set of restrooms and locker rooms for women. The equipment, technology and layout were chosen so they could be flexible for men and women “of all shapes and sizes that come to work,” Bunkers said.

“This is not as labor-intensive as it used to be. And today, you don’t notice a difference whether it’s men or women doing the work. And actually – women are some of our best employees. They’re awesome. I don’t mean to stereotype, but they often bring a different level of detail. They do well in quality control. The head of our steel shop is a woman who was promoted from working as a welder in fabrication. So it’s been awesome to see.”

Female worker at Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls SD

Gage worked with a consultant to evaluate each job and adjust job descriptions to reflect more accurate physical demands.

As it turned out, finding women to apply for the jobs “was actually incredibly easy,” Widman said. “We already had women interested in working here who had gotten turned away because they didn’t have the experience or we’d say they needed to lift up to 100 pounds. So we had a list of people interested, and once we hired one person, it was like a flood of women working here.”

Nearly all female employees were referred by another woman, she said.

Female Worker at Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls SD

“And I wish we had even more, but we are getting more women all the time,” she said. “Those who are here have gained the respect of everyone, and I think it’s been beneficial for the whole team to give them another perspective. It’s helped women move up. It’s helped single mothers make it out of really tough situations, and it’s helped women move into jobs that pay much more than they were making before.”

Gage Brothers also has worked to remove one of the biggest barriers to women and men working: child care.

“We have many situations where both mom and dad might be working for us as well, so we have reimagined our work schedule to support it,” Widman said. “We’re working four 10-hour shifts in more production positions with staggered start times, which allows someone to see the kids off to school and someone else to pick them up at night and have family time. And we have a lot of people who now are working the same shift, where before dad might have been working during the day and mom at night.”

Forklift driver at Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls SD

The company also scaled back its use of overtime, which had created challenges with finding child care, and increased its parental leave benefits.

“We’re trying to get more people back into the workforce by making schedules that work for families,” Widman said. “We used to use overtime so much that I wouldn’t have thought we could get away from it like this, but now we’re actually pouring more yards in less time. I think it’s because people are able to have a three-day weekend, and that’s significant.”

She also has helped families find child care options, including many who require Spanish-speaking providers – a gap “that’s very difficult but where there’s also a huge entrepreneurial spirit and a market to be reached and given resources,” she said.

All the efforts have added up to a noticeable, positive shift for the Gage Brothers workforce.

Forklift Driver at Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls SD

“Once you start to have more women working, you can start to promote them as they demonstrate skills and capabilities, so I’m really excited to see how this is going to grow,” Bunkers said, adding he has two female vice presidents and two male vice presidents on his leadership team.

“It’s truly from the top that we believe in this also,” he said.

The best practices modeled by Gage Brothers “are outstanding,” said Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “This is exactly what we need employers to be inspired by and motivated to embrace. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but the approach Gage is taking shows what’s possible when you think differently and are willing to make positive change.”

The relationship Gage Brothers has built with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and Forward Sioux Falls has been beneficial, Bunkers said.

Welder at Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls SD

“We get to be part of a bigger plan because of it,” he said. “We’re learning ideas from others and working with them to reach out to schools and tell the story of what opportunities exist here.”

Back at the plant, Widman sees signs of the changes that have occurred constantly.

One supervisor’s response in particular comes to mind.

“He can be kind of a gruff guy and one I thought maybe would have been against having more women in the workforce, and now he has two female leaders on his team and is developing them,” she said. “The other day, he came in my office and said: ‘You know how women work here? It’s a good idea.’ And now, we have women who are supervisors and moving into leadership positions. It’s been incredible.”

To learn more about opportunities at Gage Brothers, click here.

Forward Sioux Falls is a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and is widely respected as the premier economic driver for the Sioux Falls region. To learn more and connect, click here.