Graco opens major expansion in former bank operations center

A former Wells Fargo operations center building has transformed into an expanded space for a fast-growing manufacturer.

Graco Building in Sioux Falls, SD

Graco Inc., which is based in Minneapolis, has expanded four times since originally coming into the Sioux Falls market in 1993. The newest addition at 3401 N. Fourth Ave., adds 95,000 square feet, with a new connection to the manufacturer’s existing facility, for a total of 300,000 square feet.

Map of Graco facilities in Sioux Falls SD

“Plus, we doubled our acreage and can add to the west,” said Sue Christensen, operations manager, who has been with the company for almost 25 years and ironically began her career in the same building when it was part of Hutchinson Technology.

workers at Graco in Sioux Falls SD

“We’ve had significant growth at this location over 30 years and have added a lot of highly skilled employees because we invest in technology.”

More automation takes away some ergonomic concerns and offers workers an increasingly high-tech environment.

Production machine at Graco in Sioux Falls SD

“People can operate robots instead of physically sitting all day to perform the task,” Christensen said. “I think we’ve done a good job balancing our growth with a better skill set and higher-paid positions for people to move into.”

The Sioux Falls team supplies tips, spray guns and applicators such as those in the photo below to all divisions at Graco.

Sioux Falls Products Sioux Falls supplies tips and applicators to all divisions at Graco

“We produce the products that fit in your hand,” Christensen said. “They’re at the end of the hose applicator, so things like spray guns and valves and tips. We do everything from precision machining and work that is highly automated to manual assembly when needed.”

Graco sprayer applicator

The new addition supports a recent acquisition of a California-based company that makes high-purity valves.

Graco manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls SD

“Graco is a growth company — both organically and by acquisition — and we are continually working on designs for new product launches,” Christensen said.

Graco manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls SD

The business has grown to 300 full-time employees and continues to add, especially experienced CNC machinists.

Graco manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls SD

“Our employees are very committed to continuous improvement,” said Tammy Wierenga, human resources manager.

“We conduct training for our entry-level positions, but we need highly skilled technical people for our machining roles.”

The newest building now serves as the front door for Graco in Sioux Falls. The office space was vacated by Wells Fargo during the pandemic, and while much of the building was renovated completely from workstations into manufacturing space, some of the office area was updated with new finishes and now is used by Graco’s team.

Graco manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls SD

“We did a face-lift with new carpet and paint and furniture,” Christensen said. “And then we moved in some of our legacy work into the new addition, along with a space for clean manufacturing.”

The architect on the project was TSP, and the general contractor was Henry Carlson Construction.

The new addition is “another significant milestone in Graco’s growth journey in Sioux Falls,” said Mike Gray, director of business development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Graco manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls SD

“Our organization’s relationship with Graco has been a source of pride since the early 1990s, when they became a cornerstone tenant in Sioux Empire Development Park 3. Since those early days, we have collaborated on numerous expansion projects, witnessing firsthand their growth and commitment to the community.”

Graco’s success story “is not just about business,” he continued. “It’s a testament to the vibrant economic landscape of Sioux Falls. We look forward to continuing to work together and celebrating many more milestones in the future.”

Graco manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls SD

For Graco, the Development Foundation is “great to work with,” Christensen said. “They’ve been very helpful in making us aware of all that’s available to support our growth and stayed connected with us throughout the process.”

The company also has partnered with the Development Foundation around workforce development programming.

Worker observes machine at Graco manufacturing facility in Sioux Falls SD

“I take advantage of the networking events and educational events and appreciate the insight they offer,” Wierenga said.

Graco held a ribbon-cutting on May 8 to celebrate its new addition.

To learn more about current career opportunities at Graco, 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.

East Coast couple finds early-career opportunities with Sioux Falls move

Think people don’t move across the country because of a humorous YouTube video?

Meet Steven Munoz and Ashley Neely, who didn’t even know about South Dakota until they saw Gov. Kristi Noem dressed as a dentist in an ad for working in the state on YouTube.

“I barely knew Mount Rushmore was here,” Munoz said. “I didn’t know any of the towns.”

But he and Neely knew they wanted to be together. After meeting in college, they were dating long-distance – he in New York and she in Connecticut – and liked the idea of a fresh start, even if it did mean halfway across the country.

Steven Munoz and Ashley Neely

“I was looking to get out of New York because it’s expensive to live there and would have taken me years to buy a house,” said Munoz, who went to tech school for an auto diesel program.

Neely, who was working for a private school in marketing and development, originally learned about the South Dakota videos from her sister.

“It was motivational and upbeat and kind of piqued our interest,” she said. “He started looking into it first, really pounding the pavement looking for a job, and then I said I’ve got to get going.”

Steven Munoz and Ashley Neely

None of it took long. Munoz first reached out in South Dakota in September and by November was part of a technical apprentice program at Cummins in Sioux Falls, learning to work with diesel engines and generators.

“It’s a six-year program where they get you all learned up and you start working on generators,” he said. “It all moved really fast.”

Neely applied for a couple of jobs and soon was hired as the marketing and communications coordinator for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire.

But first, they visited last fall.

Steven Munoz and Ashley Neely at Falls Park In Sioux Falls SD

“I figured we should before I move 1,500 miles, and we really liked the town,” she said. “We just explored for a long weekend, we visited the Falls and did a lot of sightseeing and visited places for apartments, and it just felt really comfortable here. Everybody was kind, and I was like, this is different. We noticed there wasn’t even a lot of road rage compared to where we come from. I realized I was really calm driving the whole time!”

He moved to Sioux Falls in November, and she began her new role in January.

“It really was an excellent hiring process and made me excited to be here because it gave me insight into how people operate here, and I’ve had a great time getting to know the kids and the families we serve,” she said.

They’ve moved into a roomy apartment in Harrisburg.

“I love it,” Munoz said. “We’re in a town house, we have a garage, which is super nice, and it’s affordable, which is really nice.”

They estimate that “what we have for a home here would have been double or close to triple on the East Coast,” Neely added.

The couple’s experience is a great example of what awaits other young professionals in Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Both of them have met friends through their jobs who have helped them learn more about the area. In their spare time, they’ve enjoyed the Great Plains Zoo and checking out area antique stores.

Steven Munoz with Giraffe

“And we’ve been driving around a lot of the different towns,” Neely said. “We went to Canton, we went to Tea, he learned about Flandreau on a job, so we went there and one weekend and saw bison. I want to do more downtown because there are a lot of cute little shops and bars to go to.”

While they got engaged last year, they haven’t set a date or place yet. But in looking at their future, both say they’re feeling positive about the move west.

“The other day, he joked there was a job opportunity in Orlando – because I’m a huge Disney person – and I actually said: ‘I like my job. We’ll stay here,’” Neely said.

For Munoz, who loved his job from the start, “it was nice to hear” his fiancee feels the same, she said.

She already knows where he stands too.

“He’s ready to stay in South Dakota forever.”

To learn more about building your career in Sioux Falls, reach out to deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

Moving Sioux Falls Forward: Interstates touts strength of area workforce as key to growth

As a highly technical company, Interstates requires a heavy STEM-based skill set from its team — and increasingly, the business is finding that in Sioux Falls.

Over more than 70 years, the company has evolved with the needs of industry to provide electrical engineering, construction, instrumentation and control-system solutions to manufacturing and industrial clients.

Workers at Interstates

“This is a company filled with high-level talent, and the fact that Interstates is able to source so much of the workforce needed to support its growth in Sioux Falls is a testament to what this area collectively has achieved,” said Bob Mundt, president and the CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“It’s a terrific example of the kind of exciting career and positive culture that awaits graduates and talent of all career stages, and we’re anticipating many more opportunities for Interstates to grow in our community.”

While it’s based in Sioux Center, Iowa, Interstates has grown its workforce in Sioux Falls thanks to intentional partnerships and investment in its employee experience and culture.

Here’s a closer look at the business, courtesy of CEO Scott Peterson.

Scott Peterson

Business name: Interstates.

Year founded: Interstates was founded as Johnny’s Electric by John A. Franken in 1953. In 1967, it was renamed to Interstates Electric & Engineering, which later became Interstates as it’s known today.

Year operations began in Sioux Falls: 1999.

Total employees in the Sioux Falls area: We have over 200 team members in the Sioux Falls area and nearly 1,500 globally.

CEO/lead executive in Sioux Falls: Scott Peterson, CEO.

How would you describe your organization to someone not familiar with it?

Interstates partners with industrial and manufacturing clients to design, build, automate, maintain and protect their facilities.

Worker at Interstates

This is everything from project inception to ongoing facility operations and maintenance.

What are the top three reasons you continue to locate in the Sioux Falls area?

The strength of the workforce here is incredible, and the proximity to strong universities and technical schools allows us to stay connected with them.

Workers at Interstates

The Sioux Falls area also allows us to continue to grow our presence in the South Dakota industrial space.

What are you most proud of within your business in the past year?

Over my career as a whole, and especially in the last year, our culture and our team members are what make me most proud. Our Family Core Value is a strong part of our organization. Our safety program ties closely to this in the way we care for and watch out for each other. Last year, we reached a million hours worked without a recordable injury. This is the fourth time we’ve done that, which is very rare. Fewer than 100 contractors have reached this milestone.

In the last year, I’ve watched our team members live out our culture in multiple ways. They’re leaning into our You Matter, I Care program, which promotes the importance of both physical and mental health, and they are driving forward our Engage program as individual teams lead service projects and regularly plug into their local communities.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your business?

Due to the nature of our work, we’ll likely see unique challenges in different areas of the organization. Keeping up with the demand for our field and professional workforce is and will continue to be one of our biggest challenges.

team meeting at Interstates

We’re always looking to bring great people into the organization. We’ll also be supporting our clients as they navigate digital transformation within their industries. As the construction world shifts to more off-site construction, we’re on the path to changing the way we work to rise to that challenge and help our clients be successful.

How would you describe the culture of your business in three words?

Empowering servant leaders.

For context, our team members are the heart and soul of our organization and have driven the success of the company by how they live our culture. No matter the role they hold at Interstates, they lead from where they are and truly serve one another, our clients and our communities.

Interstates employees pose with rakes and yard tools

Why does your business choose to invest in Forward Sioux Falls?

We believe in investing in the communities where we live and work. Forward Sioux Falls is preparing the community for the future and growth. Specifically, we appreciate the way Forward Sioux Falls walks alongside businesses as we manage environmental challenges and secure skilled workers.

What specific advantages or values have you found to partnering with Forward Sioux Falls and its programs?

The programs that Forward Sioux Falls has put in place around training the current workforce and developing future talent continue to enhance the strong workforce in the Sioux Falls area. Because of our shared focus on technology and innovation, Forward Sioux Falls keeps us connected to the growing technology community as well.

What are your expectations for your business in the year ahead?

Overall, we’re expecting 2024 to be a strong year. Our clients across the U.S. are in relatively strong markets, and we’re seeing good activity and growth. We’ll continue to strengthen those relationships in the year ahead. As always, we’ll continue to invest in our people and our culture. Most recently, we had an 87 percent companywide engagement score and have consistently exceeded the industry average. This is something we’re proud of, and our focus will remain on supporting and serving our team members.

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.

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 deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

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.

Moving Sioux Falls Forward: Egger Steel helps shape city’s skyline

Behind the record building years of Sioux Falls is a family business helping support the needs of the booming construction industry.

Steel beams

Egger Steel Co. began with just three employees almost 80 years ago as a fabricator of structural steel for local construction projects.

During the expansion of the interstate highway system in the 1950s, the company added fabrication of steel bridge girders. From its headquarters at 909 S. Seventh Ave., Egger Steel consistently has positioned itself and its services to meet the changing needs of businesses.

welder works on steel beams

“Being in the construction industry, we directly benefit from the growth of existing Sioux Falls businesses and the attraction of new businesses to the area,” president Burke Blackman said. “Egger Steel has supplied materials to countless construction projects in Sioux Falls.”

Recent work has included the parking ramp and skywalk at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, The Steel District downtown development and the new Sanford Orthopedic Hospital.

building structure with steel beams

“The construction industry thrives in Sioux Falls because of companies like Egger Steel who continue to invest in their product and their people,” said Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “We’re excited to see them continue to grow and evolve along with our community.”

Here’s a closer look at the business, courtesy of Blackman.

Burke Blackman of Egger Steel

Business name: Egger Steel Co.

Year founded: Egger Steel was founded in Sioux Falls in 1946 by Albert Egger and George Scudder.

Total employees in the Sioux Falls area: During the first two generations of family ownership, the company grew its workforce to more than 150 employees and grew its market to cover South Dakota and the surrounding states. The third generation of ownership brought investments in technology and automation. The current workforce of 45 employees utilizes 3D modeling and computerized (CNC) equipment to produce the same volume of production with greater accuracy and efficiency.

CEO/lead executive in Sioux Falls: Burke Blackman, president.

How would you describe your organization to someone not familiar with it?

Using design drawings created by the construction project’s architect and engineer as a starting point, we create a 3D model of the structural steel frame that shows the finished dimensions, connection details and the interfaces of the structural steel with other materials. We then purchase the required raw materials from steel mills and other suppliers.

Machines work on steel plates

We provide our shop employees with the raw materials, shop drawings and electronic files that allow them to fabricate assemblies of beams and columns with their connection materials attached. Our goal is to complete as much of the fabrication as possible in our shop where it is more cost-effective than performing the same operations in the field. When the assemblies are complete, we ship them to the project job site along with erection drawings to show how the assemblies fit together.

What are the top three reasons you continue to locate in the Sioux Falls area?

First, the Sioux Falls workforce is exceptional. We have built our company through the efforts of dedicated employees with a strong work ethic and a commitment to quality. Second, Sioux Falls is a growing community with a steady demand for new construction. Third, Sioux Falls is close enough for us to compete for business in major markets without incurring the higher costs of locating in those markets.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your business, and what are you most proud of?

We have a generation of long-term employees that is reaching retirement age, and we risk losing the knowledge and expertise they have accumulated over many years working in our industry. To overcome this challenge, we have focused on mentorship and cross-training so that our team members are challenged and learning new skills. Not only does it help the business, but it also makes it a more enjoyable place to work.

How would you describe the culture of your business in three words?

Quality: If the pieces don’t fit together on the job site, then we have failed in our responsibility to the customer.

Trust: We aren’t micromanagers. We provide the resources necessary for everyone to perform their best and trust in their work ethics to deliver.

Transparency: We keep everyone informed about how the company is doing, and we share the profits when we are successful.

steel beams being hoisted by a lift

Why does your business choose to invest in Forward Sioux Falls?

Economic development benefits the entire community. It brings new products and services to the region, as well as new career opportunities. We appreciate that Forward Sioux Falls isn’t focused only on encouraging business growth but is equally focused on workforce development. Our company’s success is tied to the health of our community, and supporting Forward Sioux Falls is one way that we can give back.

What are your expectations for your business in the year ahead?

During 2023, everyone in our company worked long hours to keep up with the post-COVID rebound in construction activity. We expect 2024 to be a more normal year and will take advantage of the slower pace to make improvements such as implementing new production control software.

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.

Sioux Falls ranked one of the best cities for Gen Z workers

It’s important for not only businesses to keep up with changes in workforce, but even cities should consider what the next generation is looking for in a place to call home.

Checkr analyzed cities across the U.S. to determine which are best for Generation Z, or ‘Gen Z.’

The results? Sioux Falls ranked No. 7 overall and is the No. 4 small city for Gen Z.

“Small cities hold a unique charm for Gen Z workers seeking an intimate and tight community environment,” the article releasing the findings says. “The simplicity and slower pace of life in these settings can offer respite from the hustle and bustle of major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. These smaller cities create a sense of peace and well-being that aligns with Gen Z’s emphasis on work-life balance.

Learn more about the ranking and see the full results by clicking the button below.

Remote workers from New York choose Sioux Falls as new home, with big benefits for family

Some people move because the family outgrows the house; Chris and Kristin Giglio knew it was time for a change when their family of six outgrew a log cabin.

log cabin surrounded by fall trees

“It was as close to paradise as we were ever going to get, but with four kids, we were going to start needing room,” Chris said. “You can’t just add on to a log cabin.”

inside of log cabin

After living in the city of Buffalo, New York, in their 20s, the couple opted for the more rural lifestyle. Their love of motorcycling took them across the country on trips, with stops in 28 states along the way. So when they decided to make a move, they drew on all that life experience – and made a long list.

“We were tired of New York for a lot of reasons, and there weren’t really any towns we wanted to live in. We like three seasons, but 100 inches of snow a year gets annoying – plus the mud when it melts,” Chris said. “We looked out west first and checked out Montana and Wyoming but realized the towns were too small and our kids would need more. So we kept looking.”

They’re both remote workers – she works for a defense contractor, and he works in IT – so the options were unlimited. But the criteria quickly narrowed down potential locations.

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

“Some places were super expensive. In some cases, air quality was an issue. We like a change of seasons,” Kristin said.

They’d only been to South Dakota once – when a storm stranded them and their bikes in Murdo. But they began honing in on the state.

“We didn’t know if we wanted to do Rapid City or Sioux Falls,” Kristin said. “We looked at weather, schools, crime, and our daughter was in gymnastics at the time, so we looked at kids’ activities.”

Their pre-teen daughter lobbied hard for Sioux Falls after watching YouTube videos on both communities.

“We looked at things like what there would be to do – bowling alleys, miniature golf, certain stores, is there a zoo, all the activities we would do in a weekend – and it had everything we would do in New York and honestly more,” Kristin said.

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

“For us, the population was good,” Chris added. “Going from a metro area of 2.5 million to 250,000 really isn’t that big of a difference, and that mattered to my daughter. She didn’t want to be stuck in a small town. But she is a little worried about being safe, so that was all part of our thinking.”

They moved to south Sioux Falls in the summer of 2022 and enrolled their older kids in the Harrisburg School District. They now have one in middle school and two in elementary school.

“Everything is so hands-on,” Kristin said. “They teach kids through projects and experiences rather than just on a computer or lecturing them. It’s all interactive. The kids actually look forward to going to school every day and were sad when there was a snow day.”

robotics competition

The activities offered in the Sioux Falls area “are honestly more opportunities than we had in New York,” she added.

girl with boxing gloves

“Our daughter is now in volleyball and absolutely loves it. Our kids are in boxing at 605 Boxing and MMA, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about the coaching staff and adult fighters that are there. And our son is on the robotics team at school, and it is an amazing opportunity for kids to engage in and challenging and rewarding for them to see their robot in action.”

volleyball game

And that’s just the start. The family’s kids also have done baseball and soccer, and Kristin is part of a parent group helping bring meals to middle school teachers.

“I was invited to a meeting at the school to meet with the principal and teachers, and everyone is so welcoming and inviting,” she said. “They are genuinely happy to have you there to help.”

While they were newcomers with no connections, anyone they met stepped up to help, she added.

boy at boxing practice

“I had to put our Realtor, Sam Adams, down as our emergency contact on school paperwork because I didn’t know anyone,” Kristin said. “We had to put our mortgage team at Plains Commerce as emergency contacts. And you know what? All of them were happy to do it, and I would trust them with my kids!”

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

Sioux Falls’ health care community also came through for the family when their daughter began complaining about leg pain shortly after the move.

“The medical field here genuinely cares about you as a patient. We went to urgent care on a Saturday, she met with orthopedic the following Tuesday and had surgery the Tuesday after that,” Kristin said.

girl with cast on leg and foot

“The whole process couldn’t have been more wonderful. There are short wait times, they explain things to you, and you never feel rushed. Even my son needs some dental procedures, and we were given options. This is not the case in New York. You wait in doctors’ offices for at least an hour to be seen, you are rushed through and not given options.”

As a remote worker, she appreciates the small-town friendliness she has encountered in Sioux Falls.

“It is a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and being a remote worker, it’s nice because I don’t have that co-worker connection,” she said. “You go to even Walmart or Scheels, and the people that work are always pleasant and talk to you. My kids joke it’s perfect for me because I like to talk to random strangers, and people here are receptive of that.”

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

Overall, “here is like it used to be in New York,” Chris said. “The schools used to be hands-on. The people used to be outside, and we wanted more of that. That’s what it is here. It feels like 15 years ago.”

The family’s experience is a model of what others can expect with a move to Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Chris and Kristin Giglio family

“We welcome remote workers, and we know many like the Giglio family who have found this community to be a perfect fit,” she said. “If Chris and Kristin ever want to make a change, they’re also going to find many employers in this community who will embrace their skill sets. And their children absolutely are going to thrive growing up in this community.”

Life here is like moving back to “simpler times,” Kristin said. “It’s more family-centric. I feel like New York was go-go-go and very cutthroat, and here it’s more laid-back and enjoyable. Everyone is so nice here, and it’s all-encompassing. It’s just different here.”

To learn more about making your move to Sioux Falls, email deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

With new ownership, Creative Surfaces set to build on record-setting growth

Grow a business, sell it to a private equity firm, and sometimes an owner doesn’t love what happens next.

“I’d seen it happen in my previous life,” said Jud Pins, president of Creative Surfaces Inc. “We sold to private equity, and it was a disaster.”

Still, Creative Surfaces – which his parents, Ted and Bev, founded in 1988 and then transitioned to Pins’ ownership, was growing rapidly.

Ribbon Cutting ceremony at Creative Surfaces

A manufacturer, distributor and installer of commercial casework, countertops and signage, the highly integrated company is a main provider nationally of signage and casework for the gaming, automotive, hospitality and fitness industries.

Creative Surfaces serves as a one-stop shop for its customers because it’s equipped to fulfill the needs of ongoing, multiscope projects that require the processing of wood, metal fabrication and electrical work. Clients include everyone from fast-growing Gold’s Gym to some of the largest Las Vegas casinos.

Casino machine

There also are storefronts in Sioux Falls: Cambria Gallery, which includes a full working kitchen and complete slabs of Cambria stone, and Creative Surfaces Countertops & Tile, a showroom for all counter material displays and in-home consultation.

“I wanted a different model of ownership,” Pins said. “As sole proprietor, you kind of just get tired of continually funding growth. All your chips are on the table every year.”

A fit came in the form of Toronto-based Lynx Equity Capital, which also has a U.S. division.

“They really should change their name because they’re not a traditional model of private equity,” Pins said. “I talked to several of the other owners Lynx had acquired, and they agreed they’re different.”

Instead of a traditional private equity approach of acquiring companies with the intent to resell them, Lynx buys primarily family-owned businesses and holds them.

“They have 55 companies, and they’ve only sold one, and they sold it to the previous owner who wanted it back,” said Pins, who continues to run the company with what he calls minimal involvement from Lynx.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Creative Surfaces Inc. to the ever-growing Lynx Family,” Andrea Natarelli, vice president of mergers and acquisitions at Lynx, said in a statement.

“This acquisition not only provides us with a foothold in a new geography, South Dakota, but it also further strengthens Lynx’s presence in the signage and cabinetry space. Over the years, Jud has built a strong organization with experienced management that competes in multiple industries, including the gaming sector across 15-plus states.”

Jud Pins at Creative Surfaces in Sioux Falls SD

In the first few months since the deal closed, there have been multiple benefits, Pins said, including allowing Creative Surfaces to streamline some internal administrative functions and synergies it has found with other Lynx companies.

“Flooring is a big deal for our clients in the fitness industry, and we get asked about it, and now we’re able to partner with a flooring company,” he said. “It’s the same with signage. They have a big exterior signage company that does exterior signs for Planet Fitness, for example. We don’t get into exterior works because we don’t have the manpower, so we’ve already shared contacts.”

There are 140 employees, mostly in Sioux Falls.

“I’ve been around this country, and this is the best workforce in the country,” Pins said. “It’s better in Sioux Falls than anywhere I’ve seen.”

Supporting continued workforce development is one reason Creative Surfaces is a longtime investor in Forward Sioux Falls.

“Trying to find people in a place with the lowest unemployment rate in the country isn’t easy,” Pins said. “But as a state and community, we’ve had some great successes lately. I think we have the best workforce we’ve ever had. We picked up quite a few people lately, and we’re seeing record numbers in terms of output.”

Workers observing a countertop installation

The story of Creative Surfaces is a classic Sioux Falls tale of success, said Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Sioux Falls is built on family businesses like Creative Surfaces,” he said. “We’re thrilled the company found such a good fit in ownership to continue its growth that it includes local leadership and an ongoing commitment to doing business in Sioux Falls.”

Going forward, people spending more time in their homes bodes well for the company’s Cambria Gallery business, and its continued industry diversification supports more business-to-business activity.

“We’re also seeing with talk of interest rates coming down there’s multifamily activity that wasn’t here previously, so we’re seeing some opportunities to put shovels in the ground,” Pins said.

The Sioux Falls facility will be growing along with the company. While there was a recent 25,000-square-foot addition, “we thought it would last five years, and it didn’t last two,” Pins said. “So we’re looking at an addition because our casework, or custom cabinetry, division is growing so rapidly and possibly another facility in the southeast. The good thing is business is phenomenal. We can’t build fast enough.”

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.

Moving Sioux Falls Forward: JDS Industries grows world-leading business from mom-and-pop shop

From a single trophy shop to the world’s largest wholesale supplier in the awards and personalization industry, JDS Industries proves what’s possible for what once was a Sioux Falls startup.

From its headquarters in northeast Sioux Falls, JDS now counts 13 warehouses nationwide and ships worldwide.

JDS Industries Building

“JDS is a model business and employer,” said Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “This is a company that established a niche, grew within it and cultivated an outstanding culture along the way.”

Here’s a closer look at the business, courtesy of president and CEO Scott Sletten.

Darwin, Scott, and Nathan Sletten

Darwin, Scott and Nathan Sletten

Year founded: Sletten’s parents, Darwin and Jane, began in business in 1972 as JD’s House of Trophies. JDS Industries was formed in 1990 as a separate corporation.

Total employees in the Sioux Falls area: There are 190 employees in Sioux Falls and 350 nationwide.

CEO/lead executive in Sioux Falls: Scott Sletten, president and CEO.

How would you describe your organization to someone not familiar with it?

We are a wholesale supplier of awards, recognition, personalization and signage products. We mostly supply the blank products that people then personalize through some form of printing or engraving process.

What are the top three reasons you continue to locate in the Sioux Falls area?

Quality of our employees is a key reason we continue to do so much here in Sioux Falls. Our focus on the customer is always top of mind, and we are able to find a good amount of people here who fit in with that focus and mindset. Quality of life in Sioux Falls is also a big factor, both in our ability to operate our business and for our employees to have a stable life so that they can devote a good amount of effort and focus to work. Sioux Falls also had a lower cost of doing business than many of the other places that we have operations, which is an advantage to us as well.

What are you most proud of within your business in the past year?

I am most proud of our resilience after several tougher years with COVID and the supply chain problems. We have been able to navigate the situation well, as well as find some new opportunities that have made us much stronger and more successful today than before the pandemic.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your business?

Continuing to find opportunities for growth that fit within the range of things that we do well and our customers have a need for. We have a lot of interaction with our customers, as well as suppliers around the world, and are always looking for what is new and what is next. We add around 1,000 new products to our line per year, which is much more than any other competitor in our core markets.

How would you describe the culture of your business in three words?

Always customer-focused.

In everything we do, we always want to keep our customer in mind — how are changes going to impact them and hopefully make things better or easier for them. We want to be the easiest supplier to do business with so we become the default supplier to our customers for much of what they need.

Why does your business choose to invest in Forward Sioux Falls and what specific advantages or value have you found in partnering with FSF?

We choose to invest in Forward Sioux Falls because the quality of life in Sioux Falls and quality of the workforce play a role in how successful we can be. Probably the most important role we look to them for is workforce development — both in bringing people to Sioux Falls and then developing them once they are here.

What are your expectations for your business in the year ahead?

Given the weaker economy expected in 2024, we are expecting slower but steady growth. With many things like supply chain more normalized now, it is allowing us to focus more on strategy and execution instead of feeling like we are playing defense and “whack a mole” like the last several years.

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.

Lifelong Kentucky residents looking for a change find Sioux Falls on a road trip – and decide to move

There’s nothing obvious to connect northern Kentucky with southeast South Dakota – other than it happened to be the route of a road trip that led to a life-changing move.

“My daughter and I only spent one night here, but it was extremely welcoming, and everyone was very happy to help, whether we needed directions or to offer food options,” said Michael Norris, who visited the city in March on his way to Montana.

“I felt like it was small, but it was beautiful, and the Falls were a natural attraction that really pulled me in. I just felt like it had a lot to offer.”

Norris grew up on the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati metro area. At 43 and after spending his whole life in one place, “you start to kind of get burned out on the same things,” he said. “I love that area and everything it has to offer, but it was time for something new and different, so I was very excited to make the move and just see what the city had to offer.”

He convinced his significant other, Jamie Lameier, to consider Sioux Falls too.

Michael Norris and Jamie Lameier

“He just said how much he loved the area, and we continued to have the conversation until I said ‘Let’s just do it.’ There’s nothing holding us back; there’s no reason why we can’t,” she said. “It’s a new challenge, and I was very up for it. You only live once, and there are more people to meet and things to experience.”

A master electrician, Norris easily found job opportunities and accepted an offer at Harvard Integrations.

“When I interviewed, it felt like home – welcoming right away,” he said. “They had the ability to make this entire move as easy and simple a transition as possible. They were behind me every step of the way.”

Lameier’s background is in nonprofits, most recently as director of advancement at a private high school. While still in Kentucky, she connected with Canfield Business Interiors, which was looking to add to its business development team.

Canfield building in Sioux Falls, SD

“The company resonates with me personally,” she said. “My grandfather started a business, and my father became president, so I understand the ‘why’ behind the business and what they’re trying to do. When you feel good about a space, whether it’s your home or office, it makes a big difference. And the people here were very welcoming. I just had a good feeling from the start.”

The couple’s experience illustrates the variety of opportunities available in Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Michael Norris and Jamie Lameier

“We can never underestimate the value of a positive first impression,” she added. “This couple’s Sioux Falls journey began with travel and continued with their initial job interviews, where they felt welcomed every step of the way. It’s a great example for mid-career professionals who just feel like they need to make a change that there are so many opportunities to do that here and become connected to our community.”

The couple visited in July – “for maybe 24 hours,” Lameier said. “So we didn’t see a lot, but we found a place to live at The Blu, and everything was right there that we needed with being new to the community.”

Lake Lorraine in Sioux Falls, SD

They now live alongside Lake Lorraine, within an easy walk to groceries, shopping, dining and entertainment.

“It’s been an easy transition,” Lameier said.

“We’ve explored downtown, so that’s been fun, and we like hitting up new restaurants, so I’m always asking for recommendations. We’ve been to two hockey games, which is one more than we ever went to in Cincinnati, and even the networking has been good. I realized I can make connections. I used to feel like I knew everyone, but we went to a hockey game recently, and I already knew someone, so it’s been good.”

Michael Norris and Jamie Lameier

Her adult children also have been supportive of the move.

“I told them we were going on a new adventure probably somewhere you’d never guess, and my son actually guessed South Dakota,” she said. “My daughter even thought it would be nice to move west, so I encouraged her. If you have the time and opportunity and it works out, you should do it.”

Norris also has decided his initial impression of Sioux Falls was the right one.

“I think the community has a lot to offer,” he said. “We try a new restaurant at least once a week. And my daughter is happy for me too. I’m excited for her to come back out and show her the city we’ve learned to love and embrace.”

Are you looking to make a change, grow your career and connect to a community? Contact Denise Guzzetta at deniseg@siouxfalls.com to learn more about what Sioux Falls has to offer.

From high school class to job site, Career Connections program leads students to employers

If Kayla Galindo-Lemus had never been exposed to various workplaces while still in high school, there’s a good chance she might not be working at Muth Electric today.

Instead, the Southeast Technical College student is learning on the job and in the classroom as the recipient of a full-ride Build Dakota Scholarship and a future full-time job at Muth.

“A lot of people are craving to have opportunity like that,” she said. “You go to places, you see the management, you see the people working, you see things getting built. I feel like you need to visualize things for you to like it.”

In her case, an interest in electrical work led to the scholarship and the job. That’s the goal of Career Connections, a program administered by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and supported through Forward Sioux Falls. It exposes students — often the first in their family to go to college and first-generation Americans — to different workplaces and opportunities for job shadows, internships and ultimately supportive scholarships.

Muth Electric Build Dakota Scholarship Recipients

With Galindo-Lemus, “this is such a bright kid with such a great attitude, such a great worth ethic, and it’s so rewarding to see this is her choice and she is in a company that has been with us since day one,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

To watch her career journey from high school through employment, click below.

Career Connections Spotlight: Kayla Galindo Lemus

From South Dakota Indian reservations to leading at Amazon, area leader returns home and makes big impact

From now until at least the end of the year, Alyssa Holiday’s workdays will have little downtime.

Holiday, an area manager for Amazon, oversees one of the busiest sections of the online retailer’s fulfillment center at Foundation Park. It’s known as the “pick to pack” area, where items are picked and packed into boxes without ever touching a conveyor until they’re packaged.

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“She will be at full capacity the entire time,” assistant Sioux Falls site lead Vincent Gardner said.

Learn even a little about Holiday, though, and it’s clear she’s up to this – or seemingly any – task.

Born on the Pine Ridge Reservation and raised on the Yankton Reservation, she became high school valedictorian at Marty Indian School. An enrolled of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, she left South Dakota in 2007 “to pursue better opportunities,” she said.

After beginning her adult life as a stay-at-home mom, she became a single mother in 2014 and began working retail jobs in Florida. She joined Amazon in 2015 in a suburb of Tampa to gain more hours and be employed somewhere she could work at night while friends watched her young daughter.

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

After two years as an entry-level associate packing boxes, she wanted to learn more. It took her to a different Amazon location in Florida, where ultimately “I learned to problem-solve and was an ambassador and trained all the new hires they were bringing in and did something other than constantly scanning,” Holiday said. “I was able to use my mind a little more.”

Her manager showed her an option to gain career skills on-site, and she took classes to learn computer skills as she began applying for her next promotion. She moved to another location in Florida as a logistics specialist, learning to plan routes for drivers and then learned of the chance to relocate to Des Moines, where ultimately she applied as area manager.

“I just wanted to keep moving up. I wanted to keep going,” she said. “My previous managers coached me in how to interview, and I was given the position, so I went from hourly pay to a salary and got to learn a lot.”

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

Not only that, she led the No. 1 problem-solve launch team for Amazon in 2020.

“I learned so much about configuring things and following standards and making network changes,” she said. “Some of the standards I set in my building are now in every fulfillment center. For me, it was a big thing. I didn’t get to graduate college, and being able to do things at this caliber is very exciting and exhilarating to me. I consistently learn something new every day.”

Now 37, she moved to Sioux Falls early this year, a city she used to visit from Wagner to shop and see family in the area.

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“I like it because it’s a city but not really a big city,” Holiday said. “I grew up here, but I lived in Tampa and Orlando, and Des Moines is bigger, but Sioux Falls still gives you everything a city has, but it has small-town vibes, and the traffic is amazing.”

Inside Amazon, Holiday now is doing her own amazing things. She formed an affinity group for Native American team members that has grown to 45 people.

Native American employees at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“I had tried doing it in Des Moines, and I was dead-set on starting this Indigenous affinity group when I got here. One of the first things I did was get senior approval,” she said.

“We had a land blessing, brought some medicine men here, and they prayed for the building and said some prayers and blessed the site, and we gave a land acknowledgement speech. It was amazing. People were crying. It was very fulfilling for me to see that.”

Now, all of South Dakota’s tribal flags hang in the Amazon employee locker room.

South Dakota's tribal flags in a locker room at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

“I never thought I’d see that as a Native American,” Holiday said. “We’re represented at Amazon. To me, that’s unheard of.”

The group already has volunteered for efforts like supporting Feeding South Dakota and wants to enhance its skills in science, technology, engineering and math and has offered help with resume-building. Holiday is working with a similar Amazon group in Seattle for help with workshops.

“We’re all still learning how to run this group, but we have huge plans,” she said. “I want to invest in them and give them the opportunities I didn’t have.”

Alyssa Holiday working at Amazon Warehouse in Sioux Falls SD

From leadership’s perspective, “she’s awesome,” Gardner said. “She does a lot for our site. She’s done some amazing things helping with the building launch and has lots of initiative and drive.”

While her work at Amazon keeps her busy, Holiday is enjoying family events she used to miss by living out of state and is enjoying calling herself a South Dakotan again.

“What Alyssa has done in her career is nothing short of remarkable, and the fact that she’s now offering a path forward for other Native American professionals is so exciting to us,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Indigenous at Amazon display boards

“Amazon has shown itself to be a model employer as far as offering opportunities for employee growth and skill development, ongoing promotional opportunities and unique ways to engage its employees. There’s so much to take away from this story on so many levels.”

For Holiday, a career at Amazon has been “a great opportunity,” she said. “I don’t have a degree, and now I’m leading and developing the people that I used to be. For me, that’s a huge thing, and I tell that to my associates all the time: I used to be in your shoes.”

Are you ready to continue your career journey in Sioux Falls? Email deniseg@siouxfalls.com to get connected, or visit siouxfalls.com to learn more.

From California to Sioux Falls, nurse who doubles as DJ calls move a dream come true

Ny Bradley will tell you her Sioux Falls move has been nothing short of a love story – on multiple levels.

“My now fiance, Donny, and I met seven years ago and were madly in love in Texas,” she began. “He decided he was going to go to trucking school and do well, and he went off and did that, and I was working as a nurse.”

Ny and Donny

Donny’s job led him to settle in Sioux Falls, but when he asked Ny if she’d be willing to move too, she said no.

“Sioux Falls is an excellent hub for truckers. The roads are very truck-friendly, and he’s right in the middle of the country, so he’s home every five or six days, which is unheard of for truckers,” she said.

Volvo Semi Truck

“It’s best for his balance, and I understood that, but I was only 25 or 26 years old and wanted to travel and learn music.”

Bradley’s path led her from her native Texas to Los Angeles, where she continued to work as a nurse and went to school for music production with training in audio engineering.

But the two stayed in touch and after reconnecting last year realized “we were each other’s person,” she said. “For both of us, it was something where there was no question.”

After visiting Sioux Falls twice, “it was enough for me to realize I loved it, to my surprise,” Bradley said. “I don’t feel a need anymore to experience the fast life and these big parties, not that Sioux Falls doesn’t have places for that, but I realized what I wanted was to be in a community where I felt connected. That’s why I love being here. I’ve been here like a month, but every time I visited, people were amazing and so friendly.”

Ny and Donny

It didn’t take her long to connect to a like-minded community. After posting a message on Reddit asking about the electronic dance music, or EDM, scene in Sioux Falls, a response immediately suggested she check out an event being held at Full Circle Book Co-op downtown.

She met the host, himself a transplant from New York, “and he said there isn’t much of a scene here, so we decided to partner in some way to bring forward more EDM here,” she said. “Me being a DJ and producer and him being in management event coordination, we just meshed, and we’re going to make it happen. I think a lot of people in Sioux Falls, especially the younger generation, will be interested in hearing electronic music and not having to go to Coachella or New York to hear something, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Ny Bradley

Bradley also is far from leaving her nursing career behind. While music became her outlet working as a COVID nurse during the pandemic, she held onto a dream of being a pediatric nurse in labor and delivery or the neonatal intensive care unit.

“I’ve been in critical care and worked as a COVID nurse and did a lot of medical surgical pediatric, but in LA, every time I would apply, they would tell me I needed two years of NICU experience. Well, without getting hired, how would I get it?” she said.

While she moved to Sioux Falls without a job, she applied for two at Avera Health on the drive east.

“I applied to the mother-baby unit and the NICU, and I was offered both positions,” she said. “I’m now a NICU nurse, and I start in a few weeks. I’m over the moon. I can’t tell you how much I’m falling in love with Sioux Falls. I’ve had dreams where I’ve been a baby nurse, and now that dream is coming true. My family dreams are coming true as is finding that community where it feels like this is a great place to have kids or have a startup, depending on what I do with my music.”

In the meantime, look for her at the next House Dance Music Show at Full Circle Book Co-op on Nov. 18 when she’ll be DJing, beginning at 10 p.m.

Ny Bradley

In her free time, she enjoys meditating at Falls Park, where she’s inspired with ideas for songs, as well as discovering unique experiences like corn mazes. She lives just south of Sioux Falls in Harrisburg and is loving her shorter commutes.

“I’m used to it taking 45 minutes to go to work, and this is the best. It takes me no time,” she said.

Bradley’s experience in Sioux Falls might sound too good to be true, but it’s not outside the norm, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Everything you’ve heard from Ny about her experience can be replicated and is reflective of what this community offers,” she said. “It is an outstanding place for health care, for trucking, for the arts and for those interested in starting a business and starting a family. It is as easy to get connected as Ny has found. We’re thrilled she and Donny will be starting their life together here and can’t wait to see how they continue to contribute to building our community for others.”

Ny and Donny

How does Bradley know the community is ready for her to put her unique spin on it? She thinks back to that first house show downtown, where she saw everyone from teenagers to people in their 70s dancing away.

“A man put his cane down and got on the dance floor. I didn’t even see this in Los Angeles,” she said. “It filled my heart with so much joy and confirmation that this is what I want. Sioux Falls ended up being literally everything I wanted, and I feel like one of the best things I can do is contribute something back.”

Are you ready to continue your career journey in Sioux Falls? Email deniseg@siouxfalls.com to get connected, or visit siouxfalls.com to learn more.

Workforce development leader takes stock of progress, weighs in on future needs

Dave Rozenboom views workforce development through multiple lenses.

As the president of First PREMIER Bank, he recognizes there are some areas of workforce that have to be addressed at a company level.

“There are certain things you have to own as an employer – compensation, benefits, culture – but then there are things that go beyond a company level and have to be addressed at a community level,” said Rozenboom, who also has served as a leader within Forward Sioux Falls.

“There also are things we need to work together on, and in many ways, I think we’ve done a really good job on that front as a community and now are in a position where we can look at what needs to be done next.”

The annual WIN in Workforce Summit, produced by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, is an opportunity to do just that. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center and will bring together thought leaders such as Rozenboom to address the state of workforce development today and tomorrow.

He will help lead off the day on the panel Talent Talk: Get To Know the People Changing Our Workforce Landscape.

We sat down with Rozenboom for a look back and ahead at workforce development – and a preview of what to expect at the WIN Summit.

Looking back on the time you’ve focused on workforce development as a community leader, what kind of progress have you seen the Sioux Falls area make?

Even looking back about six years ago, it’s amazing how things have progressed. At that time, I remember an effort between the business community and higher education to align around our shared needs for a prepared workforce, and today there have been a number of game-changing initiatives. Some clear examples certainly are the Build Dakota Scholarship program, an incredible success story that changed the conversation in our community to reflect that a two-year degree can be a great career path. The full-ride Build Dakota Scholarships supported by seed money from Denny Sanford and the state of South Dakota have been completely embraced by industry partners and have really created an unbelievable program. And then more recently, the South Dakota Freedom Scholarship created the state’s first need-based scholarship that fills a critical gap. Between those two programs, we have really helped create pathways to provide greater access to education.

I also think there’s much greater awareness in the community about the increasing diversity of Sioux Falls, and Forward Sioux Falls, through Sioux Falls Development Foundation programming, has done a lot to help employers connect with this future workforce. The Career Connections program for high schoolers is a very concentrated effort to bring students into workplaces and allow employers to tell their story.

First PREMIER Bank has been a strong supporter of Career Connections and other workforce development efforts. How are this and other best practices helping you as an organization?

We have definitely seen results from Career Connections. It’s new enough that the students who participated are still in high school or college, but we’ve had students from the program go on to take part-time jobs with us and gain valuable exposure to the banking industry. Within First PREMIER, we also find a lot of value in connecting our executive leadership with our first-generation workforce. We’ll organize a lunch and invite several first-generation team members and have them share their stories with our executive team. It’s a chance to learn about the challenges they have overcome and hear what they have to tell us about their experience as employees, as well as being a chance for us to reinforce their importance to our organization. I’d encourage any organization to do something similar. A lot of this is about education – whether you’re a student, an employee or in management.

Workforce development also is about retention. What are some examples of what you have done at PREMIER to keep top talent?

I think it started very early on with our founder, Denny Sanford, and continued through our CEOs, Miles Beacom and Dana Dykhouse. Denny said very early on that culturally we want to be a company that people want to be a part of. We’ve focused on our people being our most important competitive advantage, and I think that shows.

What gaps do you think still exist in the Sioux Falls area when it comes to addressing workforce needs?

I think we need to start connecting more dots – dots from the student to school counselors, parents and employers to the opportunities that are now present. We now have all the building blocks in place. We’ve removed a lot of financial barriers, the tools are now in place, and we need to help all involved learn what’s available and how to take advantage of it.

As a community, I think Sioux Falls really is in a position to go from being a place that benefited from rural-to-urban migration to one that benefits from urban-to-urban migration. We have a diversified economy with an array of jobs, an excellent education system, low crime compared to the national average, low taxation and an amenity-filled community for our size. For a long time, people were going from the Midwest to the coasts, and now I think people are coming from the coasts to the Midwest, so I think we have a tailwind in Sioux Falls.

About the WIN in Workforce Summit

Sessions at the WIN in Workforce Summit are eligible for nine SHRM and HRCI recertification credits. The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is recognized by SHRM to offer professional development credits for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® recertification activities.

Space is limited for this transformative event, so register soon here to reserve your seat.