Sioux Falls metro considered “resilient” in post-pandemic economic recovery

To measure how local economies were faring during one of the most volatile economic periods in recent memory, Brookings Metro launched the Metro Recovery Index in 2020. It included critical insights on certain elements of economic recovery, including jobs, home prices, rents, and commuting patterns. Their newly released Metro Monitor provides a comprehensive look at how the pandemic impacted inclusive growth across 192 U.S. metro areas with populations of at least 250,000, which together are home to 78% of the nation’s population and contribute 84% of the nation’s GDP.

The Metro Monitor examines economic performance across five broad categories: growth, prosperity, overall inclusion, racial inclusion and geographic inclusion. Each category is measured using three standardized indicators. To assess how the pandemic influenced inclusive growth, this analysis examines trends across those indicators over two time periods: 2011-2019 and 2019-2021 during the pandemic.

Sioux Falls metro was one of 50 areas considered “Resilient,” having an inclusive growth score that ranked in the top half of metro areas in both periods, meaning it was a strong performer prior to the pandemic (ranking 18th) and sustained strong performance through the pandemic (ranking 12th).

Nebraska couple moves to Sioux Falls for careers but praises city for inclusiveness

Add Amie Martens and her fiance, Chuck, to the growing number of people who moved to Sioux Falls for a job.

In their case, it was two jobs – both at Hy-Vee. Chuck is a commercial baker, and Amie is the general manager of Wahlburgers, the restaurant inside Hy-Vee.

“Our first interview was here in Sioux Falls, and we took it,” she said.

Hy-Vee Wahlburgers

That was last summer, months after she joined Hy-Vee in Nebraska following a career that included everything from call center roles to trucking.

“I’d been to Sioux Falls a number of times trucking – I’ve been to all but three states,” Martens said. “And living here has been great.”

From the start, their employer and the community have stepped up, she said. At one point, when they struggled to find housing after one opportunity fell through, “Hy-Vee actually took care of us until we were able to find an apartment suitable for our family,” she said.

Nebraska Couple moves to Sioux Falls

“We have a kayak, and one of the managers at Hy-Vee said we could store it in their garage, and at work I have a great group of employees.”

The couple represents a growing number of new Sioux Falls residents. The city’s population estimates reflect about 14,000 new residents in the past two years. Data from First Dakota Title compiled by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation offers additional insight.

A sampling of change of addresses shows more than 100 new residents from the Phoenix metro area, 65 from two counties in the Los Angeles area, 41 from the Las Vegas metro area, about the same amount from the Seattle area, Colorado Springs and the Chicago area.

Regionally, new residents have come from the Twin Cities, southwest Minnesota, Sioux City, northwest Iowa, Omaha, Fargo, Des Moines and Lincoln, Nebraska – in that order of volume.

“Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive,” Martens said. “It’s completely different than Omaha and Lincoln. Those are college towns, and the political environment feels different. This has more of a hometown feel. When I’ve reached out to the community online about things to do, they were great. Part of my job involves hosting fundraisers, and people gave me ideas above and beyond what I expected. Everyone has been extremely welcoming.”

Nebraska Couple moves to Sioux Falls

As a person who lives with autism, she said she finds that especially powerful.

“I’m very open about how I communicate a little differently,” she said. “My employees, my co-workers and the community has been overwhelmingly accepting of that. I’m not shy about it. But everyone has been so loving and welcoming, it’s been amazing.”

They now have an apartment in central Sioux Falls with a rent she said would be twice as much where she used to live in Nebraska. Chuck’s 8-year-old daughter has found a good fit in school, she said, “and we’ve seen so much cool stuff downtown. We love the cotton candy store. We love our neighborhood. It’s quiet and within walking distance to so much, at least two or three parks.”

The family’s experience illustrates the broader trend the Development Foundation identified, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development.

“People move for so many reasons, but careers are definitely a driver, and it’s wonderful to see how this family has found a fit with one of our largest employers,” she said. “Amie is absolutely right that this is an incredibly welcoming and inclusive community, and I think that’s why we’ve seen people embrace living here despite moving from such a variety of places nationwide.”

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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.

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, or reach out to

Virginia couple finds career growth, better lifestyle with move to Sioux Falls

Nick Kolb and Sidney Stone agreed: It was time to leave Virginia.

“The cost of living, congestion, traffic, it’s all outrageous,” said Kolb, 29, who was working as an assistant to a dispatcher at UPS balancing delivery routes at the time.

“The weather’s gross too,” added Stone, 27, who began her career as a patient access technician in a hospital and then became a supervisor at UPS. “I cannot put enough emphasis on how terrible it is to step out at 6 a.m. and not breathe because the air is so thick with humidity.”

While they both worked at UPS, they didn’t meet there. That happened thanks to some matchmaking on the part of Stone’s mother, who met Kolb through the fitness center where she worked.

“We both thought something needed to change,” Kolb said. “We hadn’t taken a trip together, and we like to be outdoors kayaking and hiking, so we wanted to go somewhere outdoorsy but not a hot attraction, so I said you’ve got the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.”

Sidney Stone and Nick Kolb

He was familiar with this part of the country because his dad grew up in Minnesota. And even though the couple was traveling to western South Dakota, the best option was to fly into Sioux Falls and rent a car.

“So I started getting all these ads about Sioux Falls,” Kolb said.

He began reading about the city, its rankings for quality of life and career opportunities, “and I started throwing hints about South Dakota,” he said. “The cost of living is way cheaper. I figured she probably wouldn’t consider it, but since we were going out there anyway, I thought we should see what it has to offer.”

Stone was on board.

“So we decided to take one day of our vacation and drive around Sioux Falls and get a feel for the town and go downtown,” he said. “I had reservations about her liking it, but she really enjoyed it.”

Stone especially liked downtown Sioux Falls.

“And I was very skeptical at first from living on the East Coast,” she said. “But it just felt like home immediately. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there was so much to do and so much that interested us.”

While they headed to the Black Hills for their vacation, Kolb did some online searching and decided to send his resume in for an opening at Howe Inc.

“Within a week, they’d reached out and said they liked my resume and they knew I was in Virginia but would I ever come to Sioux Falls?” he said. “And I said it’s funny you’d ask that because I’m in South Dakota right now.”

Sidney Stone and Nick Kolb

They woke up at 3 a.m. and drove east across the state so he could make the job interview.

“And I woke up the following day with a job offer,” Kolb said. “I looked at Sidney said, ‘We can’t turn this down.’ And she said, ‘Let’s do it.’ So I accepted the offer, and a month later we moved out here in August of 2021.”

He’s now a commercial HVAC installer for Howe, which has helped him with on-the-job training and saw how his process skills from UPS translated to his new role.

“I love it,” he said. “The big change for me was I was used to a very repetitive workday, and now in commercial HVAC, every day is something different, and I look forward to it. I’m going into different businesses all around town and even out of state.”

Stone immediately began finding jobs too, first working in inside sales and then in human resources. She’s now a senior HR manager at Fleet Farm.

Sidney Stone and Nick Kolb

“I love Fleet Farm,” she said. “They gave me a really big opportunity, and they haven’t made me feel like it’s too much on my plate. I have my director’s ear whenever I need it, and when I have important questions, she’s always there for me. Having your boss actually be there, even if it’s virtual, to talk you through things is something I value so much. I love what I do and love the people I work with.”

The couple’s experience is a great example of the career opportunities and lifestyle early-career professionals find in Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“This couple came to Sioux Falls with skills and early work experience, and Sioux Falls has delivered fantastic professional growth and mentoring,” she said. “They’re both going to be able to build their careers and professional networks here for years to come.”

Outside of work, “we’re big foodies, and we’ve discovered Sioux Falls has a great food scene,” Stone said. “And we’ve done The District, which was cool and reminded us of one of the venues in Washington, D.C.”

They’ve also done downtown First Fridays, concerts at Levitt at the Falls and explored Palisades State Park and Valley of the Giants hiking trail at Big Sioux Recreation Area in Brandon.

Sidney Stone and Nick Kolb

“We’ve already gotten a group of friends,” Stone said. “You don’t create friend groups that quickly on the East Coast. It’s just not a cultural norm.”

The same has been true professionally, she added.

“There’s such a great HR community here. In Virginia, the groups felt very exclusive, and here I’ve already joined two HR groups, and I didn’t think I would be able to get a foothold that quickly,” she said. “It’s only been a year, and it’s been a whirlwind. It’s amazing we were able to get this chance just by moving here.”

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From Alaska to Sioux Falls, move allows childhood friends to reunite in business ownership

Kyle Brown and his childhood friend Matt Ristau were in an RV in Alaska when a business was born.

It was 2020, Ristau had wanted to visit his friend stationed in Alaska to go fishing, “and I said this is the year to do it,” Brown said. “No one is traveling, and you won’t catch COVID in the middle of the ocean.”

The two go back to their days at Roosevelt High School, where they graduated together in 2000, and then went to SDSU together before Ristau transferred to USD and Brown joined the Air Force.

Kyle Brown and Matt Ristau

“The first year in college, Matt and I decided someday we’d own a business together,” Brown said. “We didn’t know what that was going to be.”

Brown went on to live across the country, from California, to Texas twice, Maryland and finally Alaska, where he spent 13 years.

It was while reconnecting in Alaska that Ristau’s background in commercial cleaning led them to their business concept.

“We started talking about how we do commercial cleaning and the service industry in general the right way,” Brown said. “Taking care of employees and providing professional cleaning services.”

Kyle Brown and Matt Ristau

They knew Brown’s military career would allow him to move back in two years, so they set a 2022 launch date – and met it.

RightWay Commercial Cleaning now offers carpet and office cleaning for businesses, events and public facilities.

Kyle Brown and Matt Ristau

“I think the market forces we talked about back in 2020 have only gotten stronger, as far as the importance of having a good, dedicated, professional staff and treating them right,” Ristau said. “We’ve been busy, and we’re looking to get busier, and now that Kyle’s back in town, we’re working on building it all up.”

Brown and his wife, Bethany, moved back with their kids this year.

Brown family

“My wife is from California and Colorado, so I was worried about convincing her South Dakota was the place to go for our forever home, but she loves it,” Brown said. “I was worried I was painting a super-rosy picture from what I remembered, but as soon as we bought our house and moved back this summer, we had people we didn’t even know coming over working on the house and helping mow the lawn and replace sprinklers. Only in South Dakota is that a thing for people you didn’t even know to come help.”

She’s now going back to school to earn a master’s degree, with their kids in high school, middle school and elementary school.

“Our kids are loving it here,” Brown said. “The schools are amazing. Even in a couple weeks, they’ve been happy and adjusting, and we’re not even done unpacking yet.”

brown family

After years of tight military housing, the family is loving its yard, a bonus swimming pool and new puppy.

“They just enjoy having space and everyone being able to spread out and have fun,” Brown said.

“When you live in Alaska, it’s hard to get other places unless you fly, and now we’re in the middle of the country, and we can do Yellowstone, the Black Hills and drive to Denver.”

The family represents a trifecta of reasons why people are moving to and loving Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Their experience checks so many boxes, from returning to your roots, to growing a business, continuing your education and supporting your family,” she said. “We’re thrilled to see them succeeding already in every way.”

Brown agreed that after a whirlwind of moves, it has been an ideal place to settle.

“Everywhere I’ve lived has something good about it,” he added. “Texas had great food, California was beautiful, Alaska has great hunting and fishing, but the one thing I compared everywhere to and that I missed was the people and sense of community. Nowhere compares to South Dakota when it comes to that.”

To learn more about RightWay Commercial Cleaning, visit

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‘Culture, Culture, Culture: If you don’t get it right, nothing else matters’ among panels at workforce development event

By the end of 2022, Showplace Cabinetry will have shipped more cabinets in a year than ever — more than 200,000.

“And we have a backlog that will carry us through year-end,” CEO Bill Allen said of production. “We will feel very fortunate to be blessed with a record sales revenue year as well. We now have 720 employee-owners — another record — at Showplace, who work their tails off every day to meet our customers’ demands.”

Showplace Cabinetry

None of that happens without a strong company culture.

On Oct. 26, Allen will speak on a panel addressing workplace culture at the fifth annual WIN in Workforce Summit, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Bill Allen

The topic is “Culture, Culture, Culture: If you don’t get it right, nothing else matters.” And Allen will be joined by Carrie Anderson of Avera, Tara Cox of Wilbur-Ellis and Teri Schmidt of Experience Sioux Falls for a discussion moderated by New York Life’s Anna Moe.

We caught up with Allen for a preview.

You’re speaking on the topic of culture, which is broad and in some cases open to interpretation. How would you describe how you and Showplace view culture? What does that mean to you?

It may be cliche, but the words “family, caring and good people” get used often by employees explaining how they feel about working at Showplace. When we are making decisions that involve employees, we go by the philosophy of treating people how you would like to be treated yourself. Every decision we make, we look at how it will affect our employees whether good or bad. When you respect people, are fair, honest and upfront with them, put yourself in their shoes, then the right decisions are easier to make. Our employees are a big part of our culture; they are always looking out for each other. Employees step up to help someone who is fighting breast cancer, has had a house fire or something as simple as needing a ride to work. It will always be our people that define us. We continually hear “That is why I work at Showplace: It is the people.”

Showplace cabinetry

Culture also can be hard to define, but from your perspective, how would you describe the culture at Showplace?

Culture is a reflection of the way you run the company; it is something that is woven into what you do every day. We have become more self-aware in recent years that culture can feel different to those in the office, in leadership positions, versus those who work on the production floor. That self-awareness drives us to want to ask questions, listen and learn more about how our employees think and feel about things at work. We are a manufacturer. The fact is some days things don’t go well. It’s hard work, we have issues just like everyone does, we can always improve. One thing is for sure, we try to make the work environment we have here the best we possibly can for our employees given the industry we are a part of.

What have you done intentionally to try to cultivate that culture?

Over the years, we have expanded benefits and employee programs, started company traditions and improved our facilities – all of this has become part of our culture. I have a tendency to want to list all those things as important aspects of our culture. Robust employee benefits, “perks” if you will, are necessary and useful to get people through the door, but they don’t always motivate people to stay with a company and do the best job they can. In addition to having nice “perks,” we are spending a great deal of time and effort trying to develop better leaders, foster creativity at all levels and encourage employee involvement.

Showplace cabinetry

I think our leadership team is very approachable, and it starts with me. I feel anyone at Showplace should be able to come up and talk to me about anything work-related. If I can’t answer their question, I’ll find someone who can. The goal is developing a mindset for all employees that they are not just a number here – they are an important part of our operation. One of our senior managers brought up to me that Showplace is really like a second family for a lot of our employees. It is a job, but it is more than that. It is stability in people’s lives, a place where they can contribute daily to something meaningful. When we work together, do our jobs well, we have the ability to produce something people want to buy and grow our company. That success in our work lives can spill over into individual’s personal lives.

Culture also always is evolving. Are there some elements of yours that you’re focused on improving, and how are you doing that?

This is something we talk about often. What was important to employees 10 or 15 years ago may or may not be important to employees today ​or in the next 10 to 15 years. If you are not consciously looking at how to evolve your culture in the workplace, it will come back to bite you in the long run.

worker at showplace cabinetry

We’ve put a focus on improving English language skills, and we actually teach English classes in-house now. We’ve strengthened our new-hire training programs, and we’ve really looked into and tried to simplify our application process, looking at how people conduct job searches today. What are potential employees looking for, how do we match up and making sure we are hitting the sweet spots the best we can. It is a constant process. Our goal is to be an employer of choice in the region. We focus on being forward-thinking, innovative and competitive with the benefits we offer.

What advice would you give to other businesses looking to address or improve their culture?

Every business has a culture whether you want one or not; usually it is a reflection of how you treat your employees. Pay is one thing, but honestly listening to employees and showing them respect, fairness and appreciation will go a long way towards building a better culture. When you have a decision to make regarding employees, ask yourself how you would want to be treated in that situation and then make the decision. We certainly know that our culture isn’t for everyone, and every employee isn’t for us. But we hope the culture we do have attracts the people who are a good fit!

What broader benefit have you found as a business to your intentional focus on culture?

Happier employees! I don’t want to mislead anyone – it is very difficult to find and retain employees in the Sioux Falls metro area. I just read there are over 30,000 open jobs in South Dakota and something like 10,000 people actually looking for jobs. That is a big problem, and Showplace is not immune to the difficulties associated with that. The way we look at it is: How hard would it be to find and keep employees if we weren’t doing any of these things?

worker at showplace cabinetry

Register today

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is an approved recertification provider for the Society for Human Resource Management, and human resources professionals who attend WIN can earn nine professional development credits.

Tickets are $89 for in-person attendance, which includes lunch and snacks, and $20 for virtual attendance. Group discounts are available. Contact

California family’s first impression prompts fast move to S.D., new business venture

A short stay in South Dakota was all it took to convince Jared and Katrina Smith to move east.

“We visited at the end of February and on the ride back home to California we decided to move,” Katrina Smith said. “From there, we just started packing and three months later we were headed here with our truck and trailer.”

Smith Family in front of Mt. Rushmore

They had come to South Dakota – Hartford, more specifically – to help settle the estate of Jared’s stepbrother.

“And we decided it would be in everyone’s best interest for us to buy the house and keep it in the family,” Katrina said. “He lived in Hartford, so we just decided to pick up where he left off.”

Talking with the neighbors, Jared said he quickly realized this community was different.

“I said to them that I didn’t know places like this still existed and that there were people like these – people who are still willing to get out of the car and help change a tire or help a neighbor cut a tree or just wave and say hi and smile instead of waking up in a bad mood hating the world,” Jared said.

“It was a short stay, but just that little time we were here was enough to say we did not want to go back to California.”

Smith Family in Mountains

They moved to Hartford in May and their first impression hasn’t wavered, Katrina said.

“I remember thinking this feels like a place I want to raise my kids,” she said. “Everyone is so, so friendly and that is something that doesn’t happen back home. There everyone looks at you sideways and wonders what you want, and here everyone I met was so humble. They’re just really welcoming. They talk to you. Everybody waves. It’s almost like a movie.”

As they were moving – he was in Hartford and she was flying in from California – the May derecho hit, and the sense of new community hit home.

“Jared called me and said you wouldn’t believe what just happened – all the neighbors are outside checking on each other,” Katrina said. “That’s when it really hit that we’re in a small town and everybody is open arms and willing to help.”

Then came the job search. Jared, who has a background in manufacturing, construction and maintenance, easily found a job at Central States Manufacturing.

“It was extremely easy to find a job – I have four offers before I even got here,” he said. “It was crazy. But I like my job. It has really good benefits.”

For Katrina, the move prompted her to take on small business ownership. She previously worked for a large health insurance company but was looking for a more flexible schedule that allowed her to use her skills in electrolysis.

She opened Zap That Electrolysis last month in a storefront in downtown Hartford next to City Hall.

Zap That Electrolysis Hartford SD

“It’s permanent hair removal,” she explained. “You literally go follicle by follicle, which is tedious, but it’s the only permanent method. It’s FDA-approved and recommended by a lot of physicians who are going to be doing surgery or grafting of some area where they need hair removed.”

She’s been surprised to see few offering or familiar with the service in the Sioux Falls area, she said.

“Back home it was so busy with wait lists,” she said. “I’m finding out people don’t know what it is here or know the benefits, so I’m trying to bring in the education portion of it.”

To connect with her business, click here.

The lifestyle also has been a huge benefit for their three kids, ages 11, 3 and nine months.

Smith Family in Sioux Falls

“The main thing is the kids can go outside and play,” Jared said. “You don’t see that much in California.”

In fact, concerns over drug use even in elementary school had prompted Katrina to consider home schooling.

“It’s so available at their fingertips and it’s so scary but here it’s just so different,” she said. “Our daughter has made friends, she’s gone to her first sleepover and she’s adapting very well. And our three-year-old loves it. She loves to be outside and back home we really didn’t have much grass.”

For fun, the family has enjoyed discovering all that nearby Sioux Falls offers, including Falls Park and Wild Water West.

“We really like it here,” Katrina said. “Hartford is a very small town, but Sioux Falls has about the same number as our town back in California. I like all the open land in Hartford but how we have everything conveniently close.”

The Smith family’s experience is increasingly common, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“We see so many people from the coasts, especially California, who are discovering they love the lifestyle here,” she said. “I’m not surprised at all that this family found so many career options, a welcoming place for business ownership and the quality of life they want for their children. We’re so happy they’re part of our growing Sioux Falls region.”

Ready to learn more about carving your own path in Sioux Falls? Visit, or reach out to

Sioux Falls area businesses, across all industry sectors, continue to invest in growth

In the most recent CEO quarterly survey conducted by SiouxFalls.Business, existing industries in the Sioux Falls area reported a strong sentiment about business conditions and future prospects for growth. Over 75% of respondents reported overall conditions at their business as good or excellent and 93% reported the overall business climate in Sioux Falls as good or excellent. It’s no surprise then to see Sioux Falls area businesses continue to expand and make major investments into growing in our community. Here is a brief overview of the expansions underway by a handful of existing Sioux Falls area businesses:

Sanford leads the way with the top building permit in Sioux Falls so far in 2022 and after total buildout the expansion is estimated at $161 million. In June, the organization broke ground on the new 205,000 square-foot Sanford Orthopedic Hospital. This nine-story building will be built to the south of Sanford Children’s Hospital and will help in recruiting top health care talent to the region to serve the needs of our growing population.

CCL Label is a world leader in specialty packaging solutions for the consumer products and healthcare industries. The company initiated multiple expansion projects this year. The first was an $11.9 million greenfield project near Southeast Technical College and the second was a renovation of their existing facility to add additional product lines.

Graco manufactures premium equipment to move, measure, control, dispense and spray a wide variety of fluid and powder materials. The company started a more than $15 million expansion when they purchased the former Wells Fargo corporate building at 3401 N. 4th Ave. immediately south of their current location and began construction to connect the two facilities. The renovated Wells Fargo space will provide additional capacity for manufacturing and assembly production.

Scherer is a locally owned grain processing solutions company started in the 1990s. The company has steadily grown alongside the growth of the region and will be the newest tenant in Foundation Park having completed the purchase of 10 acres of land. Construction will begin in the near future on a 120,000 square-foot facility and plans to add 30 new jobs.

Outdoor Gear is a family owned and operated winter apparel manufacturer and distributor headquartered in Sioux Falls. With more than 20 years of success, the company recently expanded in Sioux Empire Development Park VIII purchasing nearly 6 acres of land from the Development Foundation and constructing a $3.6 million facility.

SDN operates more than 50,000 miles of fiber in eight states throughout the region. The company is expanding their data center located in the northwest corner of Sioux Falls at the Mark Shlanta Technology Park. The company is more than doubling the footprint of the hardened facility for data delivery services.

Existing businesses in the Sioux Falls area provide for 80% of our community’s job growth, and the Development Foundation will continue to support businesses in their journey to expand and grow.

Are you looking to connect to additional resources to support your growth? The Sioux Falls Development Foundation can assist you in the following areas:

  • Workforce development: The Development Foundation offers programs and initiatives to help you attract, retain and develop your workforce. Contact Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development, at 605-274-0475 or
  • Business growth and expansion: Whether your business is planning an expansion in the next five years or facing risk factors impacting growth, the Development Foundation can help by discussing existing building space, available land, potential local and state incentives and other resources. Contact Mike Gray, director of business expansion and retention, at 605-274-0471 or

Couple from Detroit settles into Sioux Falls as son also chooses city for college

A job search and a college search collided in one place this year for a Detroit family: Sioux Falls.

Dr. Bart Miles and his wife, Jennifer Knightstep, have lived all over the country. She was born in California and spent much of her life in Michigan; he has been in the Detroit area since 2003.

The closest he came to South Dakota was as a student at Dordt Univeristy in Sioux Center, Iowa, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“I had friends in Sioux Falls, and at the time I was at Dordt, I’d come over once in awhile to go to a movie. Sioux Falls was significantly smaller, and I hadn’t been back since,” said Miles, whose family still lives in the Omaha area, where he grew up.

When he saw Augustana University was launching its social work program, he applied and interviewed to become an associate professor.

Dr. Bart Miles

“So for the first time in 30 years, I came back to Sioux Falls and saw it and really had a great experience,” he said.

When he returned to Michigan, he said: “Oh my gosh, Sioux Falls is so cool. You’re going to love it there,” Knightstep said. “We had traveled through Sioux Falls, but I hadn’t been to stay and visit. I really love South Dakota though, the Badlands, and whole state is just beautiful to me.”

The social work program is part of Augustana’s broader Viking Bold 2030 strategic plan. The Harriet Emily Scott Social Work Program at Augustana will include Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees.

Miles is helping develop the curriculum, with a plan to go through accreditation and fully launch the bachelor’s program in 2024, followed by the master’s program in 2027.

“The U.S. Labor Department says social work is one of the fastest-growing occupations and is projected to stay that way for another at least 10 years,” he said. “As Sioux Falls expands, there will be higher and higher demand.”

And while this Augustana program proved the right fit for Miles, the school also rose to the top of his son, Nic’s, college search.

Miles Family

“He knew he wanted a smaller school, maybe a private institution that was more personalized,” Knightstep said. “When he applied to Augustana, he didn’t tell them he was related to a faculty member. He wanted to see what happened on his own, and he did it. He loved it. He went on his first campus tour and said it was exactly what he was looking for in a university.”

Nic will be a freshman this fall studying biochemistry and botany.

And he won’t have far to go for a trip home. The family decided to begin life in Sioux Falls by renting a house not far from campus.

“We looked downtown, we could be downtown urban-living folks, but our dog decided she wanted a yard, so we found a nice little house near the university,” Knightstep said. “Everyone we’ve met has been so nice. The day we unloaded the U-Haul the neighbor across the street came over with a dolly and offered to help us move.”

She also has found a warm reception for her own business: Jen Knightstep Photographer.

She specializes in newborn photography and already has found clients through word of mouth in Sioux Falls.

newborn photography

“I had my first session here a week after we moved,” she said. “I had posted in a Facebook group that I was new in town and offering to photograph babies, and someone reached out and ended up being an ideal first client.”

She runs her business through

“It’s a niche area of photography,” she said. “You can’t just pick up a camera and start shooting newborns. You need safety training, to know how to pose them and to know how to get them to sleep.”

newborn photography

The photographer in her also appreciates the landscape of Sioux Falls.

“We were just at Falls Park, and it was amazing. We don’t have anything like that in Detroit. Right here in downtown, 2 miles from my house, there’s a literal waterfall. It’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to start shooting here.”

Dr. Bart Miles and his wife, Jennifer Knightstep

In their free time, the family loves spending time outdoors.

Knightstep likes to go for morning jogs and recently joined a local running group. They’re both training for the Detroit marathon this fall.

“And I love biking and think I’m really going to enjoy that here,” Miles said. “I’m contemplating getting a road bike because there’s so much space for road biking.”

Dr. Bart Miles and his wife, Jennifer Knightstep

Their son loves it too, Knightstep added.

“He loves wandering around downtown and loves Falls Park, and I can imagine families with small children would love everything there is to do too,” she said. “You’re usually no longer than 10 or 15 minutes from anything in town. In Detroit, it could take an hour. Everything is close together, and yet there’s still good diversity whether it’s a Mexican mercado or great barbecue.”

The family is a wonderful example of how people from many stages of life find a fit in Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“We could not be happier that this family has connected to our community in so many ways,” she said. “But that’s exactly what Sioux Falls offers – opportunities to grow something from the ground up, like this incredibly valuable social work program, build your own business, including as a solo-preneur and find an amazing place to go to college.”

Ready to learn more about carving your own path in Sioux Falls? Visit, or reach out to

Ever wonder where area workers are coming from? Check out the census data!

Job-to-Job Flows from Metro Areas to Sioux Falls, SD (Q2 2021)

We know South Dakota is one of the best places to live, but other people are coming to see what all of the buzz is about!

In new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Job to Job flows shows the number of employment hires in the Sioux Falls metro area — focusing on worker reallocation. This data represents Q2 2021.

Below are the top metro and non-metro areas, outside of South Dakota, where new employees came from.

Metro area Number of employment hires
Non-metro MN 204
Non-metro IA 167
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD 137
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 136
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 50
Ohoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ 47
Non-metro NE 44
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 42
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 39
Fargo, ND-MN 35
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 28
Non-metro, ND 24
Lincoln, NE 23
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 21
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 20
Non-metro WY 20