SFPD attracts new police officers nationwide – like this one, who moved to S.D. to begin a career

Garrett McCarthy tried working in financial services after college in the Omaha area but quickly realized like others in his family that he might be destined for a different path.

So with a business degree in hand, the northeast Nebraska native decided to seek additional training – in law enforcement.

“I’d always thought about law enforcement growing up – my dad is in the profession, and I looked up to him growing up, and my brother is a deputy sergeant in Nebraska,” he said.

For his own career, though, McCarthy wanted to experience somewhere different, which led him to Sioux Falls.

“I liked the city,” he said. “I thought it was a good size and wanted to move somewhere. I had never even lived outside of Nebraska at that point.”

He began training with the Sioux Falls Police Department last August.

SFPD Officer Garrett McCarthy stands in front of a Sioux Falls police cruiser

“I had actually never been here before the academy,” he said. “I had some family who had been through and said it was a nice town that was growing. It seemed like the department itself offered a lot of opportunities and trajectories for a career in law enforcement, and that really interested me. That in itself is a big advantage over a big-city or a small-town police department.”

McCarthy joins a growing number of out-of-state law enforcement professionals drawn to work in the Sioux Falls area. In 2023, the Sioux Falls Police Department hired 28 recruit officers among three hiring classes. Of those, 11 had non-South Dakota addresses when receiving their final job offer.

“We were fortunate enough to attract candidates and hire candidates from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois,” said Ethan Beck, a talent acquisition coordinator for the city of Sioux Falls.

SFPD officer Garrett McCarthy in a police cruiser

“To start 2024, our 10-recruit February class will have two new hires from California and one from Washington state. Not only that, but we also just secured our first recruit for the June 2024 class who currently resides in New Hampshire.”

Sioux Falls Police stands out for its unique combination of strengths, Beck said.

“Not only do we offer streamlined pathways towards growth opportunities both specialty based and promotional based, but an incredible benefits package via the city at large and within SFPD specifically,” he said. “Plus, Sioux Falls sells itself. We are a top-ranking city for young adults, professionals, retirees and many demographics, leading to a competitive and diversified applicant pool without a lot of hand-holding.”

The community supports law enforcement in a multitude of ways, including with major investments.

City of Sioux Falls public safety campus

Some of McCarthy’s early emergency driving training was among the first to occur at the city’s new Public Safety Campus, a state-of-the-art complex unlike any in the region.

City of Sioux Falls public safety campus

“That was a lot of fun, definitely a new experience and very instructional,” he said. “The culture of the department, I would describe as very personable. I already feel like I know so many people and have great relationships, and there’s a good sense of camaraderie. That’s a big deal to me. You want to be able to trust the people you’re working with and get along, and it’s been great so far.”

The department “offers an incredibly low vacancy rate for as large of an agency as we are, as well as community support that is not commonly found around the country for metros either our size or larger,” Beck added. “We are incredibly appreciative and proud of those community relationships.”

police officer working on computer in car

As part of the department’s commitment to finding the right people to serve and protect, a dedicated talent acquisition coordinator was added to the team in late 2022, with a focus on high-level sourcing, recruitment tactics and workforce planning. Additionally, Sioux Falls Police is working with other city departments to bring forward innovative and strategic approaches to hiring and retention.

“Whether it is our advertising tactics, our modern recruitment website and interface or consistent engagement in career fairs and events, the SFPD takes proactive steps to engaging with candidates and attracting talent to the agency,” Beck said. “Our applicant numbers improved by almost 43 percent from 2022 to 2023, and we’re hoping to see even more quality growth in 2024 and beyond.”

For new hires like McCarthy, becoming part of the team has felt seamless.

“I’ve had great training officers. They’re very knowledgeable,” he said. “They’re very good at helping you learn how to answer your own questions and improve yourself, making sure you’re doing well and progressing because they want you to succeed. It feels tight-knit here. Even the officers I’m on call with know a number of people in the area – they’re talking to people they know at the gas station, for instance, so it has a bit of a small-town feel with a lot of opportunity.”

Sioux Falls police officers talking

The success of Sioux Falls Police in managing workforce development is a benefit to the entire community, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“A well-staffed, well-trained public safety department with an outstanding culture is something that sets us apart in such meaningful ways,” she said. “Like anyone in the workplace, law enforcement wants to feel supported and valued. And in return, this leads to a safer community, which allows us to continue to be the sort of place where people want to live and work in all occupations.”

When McCarthy isn’t on the job, you’ll find him enjoying living in downtown Sioux Falls, surrounded by parks, the citywide bike trail and dozens of restaurants, breweries and cocktail bars.

“When I was in Omaha, I had a 45-minute commute to work across town, and my downtown apartment is now very close to the police department,” he said. “I’m just finding it’s a great town and a great department.”

To explore how to grow your law enforcement career in Sioux Falls, click here.

And to connect on opportunities in additional industries, email deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

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.

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.

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.

Former Californian now helps build Sioux Falls skyline thanks to opportune move

There were four states on the list of possible moves: South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida — and South Dakota?

“It’s kind of funny,” California native Brock Williams acknowledges. “We’d never thought about South Dakota.”

But that changed in 2020, when he and his wife, Sabrina, started looking to move outside of his home state.

“She’s originally from the North Carolina-Virginia area, and my family is spread out,” he said. “We were already thinking about moving away from California, then 2020 happened. Once we went through that, we thought, what’s really holding us back?”

Brock and Sabrina Williams

And, because of the national attention South Dakota received during the pandemic, the couple’s interest in the state grew.

“We started researching, and once you do, it opens up this path to the Midwest,” Williams said. “We started learning more about the Midwest and realized if we were going to make the move, Sioux Falls was the place to be.”

With two decades of experience in the construction industry, both residential and commercial, he began seeking a new role to fit with his project management background.

“I got an offer in South Carolina, an offer in Florida, and they just didn’t feel right,” he said. “The companies didn’t feel right, the area didn’t feel right, and then I got a call back from Journey Construction.”

After his first interview with Journey, it felt right.

“Journey, in a sense, grew up with Sioux Falls, and I appreciated the history they had and felt a good connection,” he said. “But still, when they gave me the offer, I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure how the area was going to grow.”

Brock Williams

But that nervousness didn’t last long. He soon learned Journey would oversee the large expansion of Cherapa Place in downtown Sioux Falls, which includes a 10-story office and condominium tower, two buildings of retail and apartments, a parking ramp and central courtyard.

He joined the team as a project manager in late 2021.

“Being from California, I was part of some larger projects, and I’ve never backed down from one, so I wanted to be on Cherapa, and that’s what happened,” he said.

“The project has been going great. The other two project managers on the Cherapa project, Joe Niewohner and Jesse Davey, have both been on the project since the beginning with me and have been a huge help in familiarizing me with the new-construction market and learning about South Dakota. The entire Cherapa team has been very welcoming and accepting of me.”

Brock Williams views Cherapa Place project in Sioux Falls South Dakota

His employer also has fulfilled the promise he saw in that initial interview.

“Journey really does stand by their values and ethics,” Williams said. “Where I come from in California, it’s a real cutthroat environment, but because of how we do business here, I’ve built stronger business relationships in the last two years than I did in 15 years in California. It’s pretty crazy – yet refreshing.”

Sabrina Williams has found a job she enjoys too, putting her health care background to work at Delta Dental.

“It allows her to work from home, and she absolutely loves it,” Williams said. “It’s a great company, and she loves working for them. We’ve gotten really lucky with the work environment and finding great employers here.”

It’s more than luck, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Brock and Sabrina’s experience is exactly what so many others discover as they explore their career options in Sioux Falls,” she said.

“This community is filled with employers who reflect your values and respect your needs and the role you play in contributing to our shared success. Construction and health care are two fields in particular where we have so many opportunities as a growing community to welcome newcomers ready to grow their careers.”

Brock Williams working for Journey Construction in Sioux Falls South Dakota

The family has happily moved into an east-side home near Harmodon Park, where despite Williams working in downtown Sioux Falls, his commute is 10 minutes.

“I still have friends from California, and when I tell them I get off work at 5:30 and am home by 5:40, they’re like, ‘You’re kidding me,” he said. “Back home, I commuted an hour and a half to two hours each way. After doing the math, I realized how much of my life I was spending in my car.”

With their newfound free time, the couple enjoys taking their Labrador retriever out for walks on the vast Sioux Falls trail system and hiking at state parks.


“We’re really big on fishing, we like to kayak, and then, in the winter, we try to go snowshoeing while we can, so we’re embracing it full force,” Williams said. “Before moving, I’d never really gotten into hunting. But the state has a program for people who are new, which one of my co-workers introduced me to, so I’m hooked on pheasant and deer hunting now.”

Brock Williams pheasant hunting in South Dakota

Looking back, “I’m really glad we left,” he said. “We go back and visit, but once you live in a place like this and then revisit the hustle and craziness in the bigger city, it’s very noticeable, but coming back always gives you a chance to decompress.”

Brock and Sabrina Williams


In the coming months, Cherapa Place will begin moving in its new office tenants. Early next year, the building Williams is overseeing will move in its first residents. For someone new to the community, helping immediately impact its skyline has left a big impression.

“I think Sioux Falls is just a great place to live, and these projects are going to turn Sioux Falls into an even better place,” Williams said. “I think it’s moving in a great direction, the leadership this city has is phenomenal, and I think we have a bright future in Sioux Falls.”

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 New York – and now Sioux Falls – professional actress brings talent to new home

There were plenty of reasons Katelyn Walsh figured she wouldn’t end up moving from her home in California across the country.

Applying to New York University’s famed Tisch School of the Arts already required being accepted into one of the nation’s most competitive arts programs. Then, not only was the aspiring actress accepted to the school but also offered a spot in one of its most coveted programs and given enough financial assistance to make it a possibility.

Katelyn Walsh

“The only reason I moved was for the education,” Walsh said. “I loved performing, and this was the only thing I felt worth investing in.”

She graduated in 2022, but that was only after the pandemic upended the experience, causing her to return to California and put her senior year on hold.

Katelyn Walsh performing

“I can’t spend my senior year online,” she remembered thinking. “And that’s what they were going to have us do. Trying to dance and sing on Zoom was not really worth it to me.”

She ended up being paid to perform at a regional theater in Utah.

“I gained experience, but my mind shifted,” she said. “When I did go back for my senior year, my ability to thrive in the city had changed a lot. It was already a little scary the first three years, but I felt a lot less safe, and it got worse and worse. I’d fallen in love with the city but started falling out of love with it.”

Katelyn Walsh in front of Radio City Music Hall

Her values had evolved, she said.

“I really wanted family, and I didn’t feel safe walking other people’s kids as a nanny. How would I feel safe walking my own kids?” she said. “It wasn’t worth the sacrifice, especially since I was paying over $1,000 a month for an 8-by-8 room, and my closet was in my kitchen. My roommates loved it, but it wasn’t for me anymore.”

But returning to California wasn’t in the cards, either. Her parents had gotten an estimate on their house on a whim, “and they got way more than they expected,” Walsh said.

Their move brought them to Sioux Falls. She has grandparents originally from North Dakota, and her sister’s family lives in Bismarck.

“My parents realized ‘if our kids ever want to settle near us, we don’t want to have them settle somewhere it’s hard to raise a family financially,’” Walsh said. “The area we were in was slowly going downhill, but financially it was costing more.”

While she had no experience with Sioux Falls, the recent NYU grad decided she would move here too, keep auditioning nationally and travel for roles as needed.

Katelyn Walsh in New York City

“But as I soon as I got back to New York for an audition, my anxiety flared and put me back to where I was a year ago,” Walsh said. “And I realized I love performing. No doubt in my mind. But if I’m paid zero money performing and making money another way, I will be just as joyful as if I were paid more on a larger scale. That never mattered to me. Maybe I could do it, but I don’t think I want it.”

And that’s the story that brought her to a Sioux Falls stage, where she played the lead role this spring in The Premiere Playhouse’s “Cinderella.”

Katelyn Walsh performing in a production by the Premiere Playhouse in Sioux Falls SD

“One of my co-workers at Blarney Stone, where I’m a server, found out that I liked theater, and he jumped on it and asked if I’d ever thought about auditioning,” she said. “I’ve only done paid work for four years, so I think it’s a big shift mentally volunteering my time and serving the community, and it actually excited me more when I thought about it that way.”

Katelyn Walsh performing in a production by the Premiere Playhouse in Sioux Falls SD

What excited her most “was being around such a diverse group of people,” she continued. “You might think NYU and diversity, but I think we get stuck in a bubble. A lot of us are college age or right out of college, very privileged, and this was different. A lot of times in small-town theater companies there’s politics behind the scenes, and I didn’t know what to expect. But everyone was so nice, beyond anything I could have imagined.”

Katelyn Walsh performing in a production by the Premiere Playhouse in Sioux Falls SD

She now has a second job and is trying to figure out what her full-time work future looks like. She has thought about teaching and potentially seeking another degree.

“The opportunities I got to perform with kids in “Cinderella” made me realize that’s definitely something I could pursue in the future,” she said.

Katelyn Walsh performing in a production by the Premiere Playhouse in Sioux Falls SD

Walsh’s early experience in Sioux Falls is a good example of what other artists will find here, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development.

“Sioux Falls is an incredibly welcoming and vibrant community for the arts and is becoming more so all the time thanks to talent like Katelyn relocating here,” she said.

“It’s easy to get involved in nonprofits like The Premiere Playhouse, but increasingly we are finding artists with paid performing opportunities, whether in a locally produced film, the local music scene or through special events. And if Katelyn does decide to look at more education, she is going to find so many opportunities in the area that will fit her work-life-school balance.”

Katelyn Walsh performing in a production

If time allows, you’ll likely see Walsh on stage in Sioux Falls in the future.

For now, though, “I love this town,” she said. “It’s got some great parts like downtown, there’s plenty to do and fun places to go, but it’s got the small-town feel where people are willing to chat at the grocery store. I bought a car for the first time, and being able to walk to my car at night and feel safe is definitely different.”

For someone who has lived on both sides of the country, landing in the middle seems to have its benefits.

“I was surprised how friendly my co-workers were and how it wasn’t too difficult to make friends,” she added. “Accepting that I was allowed to change my mind was huge. You think you’re on a path, and everyone expects you to follow through in a certain way, but it’s OK to change your mind and have your life take on a different form than you ever imagined.”

If you think your path could wind through Sioux Falls, we’d love to connect with you! Email deniseg@siouxfalls.com or visit siouxfalls.com to learn more about opportunities to grow your future here.

Newlywed nurses make move from Utah to Sioux Falls

They’re newlyweds.

Soon-to-be new parents.

And new South Dakotans.

The past year has brought a lot of life changes for Matt and Mikel Crispo, but as they settle into Sioux Falls, they’re nothing but positive about the future.

Matt and Mikel Crispo

“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” Matt said. “We’d never been to South Dakota. We didn’t know anyone that lived in South Dakota.”

The two are both nurses and grew up in the Salt Lake City area. Their career paths led them to Sioux Falls when Matt decided to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist and was accepted into a program at Mount Marty University.

“It’s crazy because moving here there was so much change,” Mikel said. “I gave up a job I loved, I had just gotten married and had to get a new job, and suddenly we’re pregnant, and we have a baby (coming) and no family, no friends here, and we bought a house.”

But from the start, Sioux Falls has been welcoming, they said. A Realtor connected with them and helped them buy a house via a virtual tour.

They moved in April and settled into a west-side neighborhood not far from Roosevelt High School.

Matt started his CRNA program last month. It’s a blend of online and in-person learning, largely in Sioux Falls.

“I really like my classmates,” he said. “No one sees each other as competition, and everyone just wants to get to know each other and help get through these really hard three years. We have a giant group text, and we’ve gone out, and I’ve already met classmates that have kids due too, which was really nice.”

Mikel, a former pediatric emergency medicine nurse, now works as a gastroenterology nurse.

“The schedule is a lot better, and we’re expecting, so this is going to work better with a child,” she said. “I work 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., so I won’t have to leave a baby for a 12-hour shift.”

Matt and Mikel have moved to a place that’s outstanding for nurses, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Matt and Mikel Crispo

“There are so many opportunities for nurses here, whether you’re looking to expand your skills or find a new way to put them to use,” she said.

“Our health care community absolutely embraces and appreciates those with a nursing background, and we welcome anyone else who can relate to Matt and Mikel’s situation and is looking for that next great career and personal move.”

The best part about moving to Sioux Falls, though, has been connecting with the community, the couple said.

“We love downtown,” Mikel said. “I like to do that every weekend. I love the little stores. We’re trying new restaurants every weekend, and we’re trying to go out and meet people and do things.”

They’ve already been to First Friday downtown, a Levitt at the Falls concert and even participated in the Downtown Burger Battle during their first visit to the city in January.

Matt and Mikel Crispo

“We try to do something new each week,” Matt said. “Sioux Falls is small but not insanely small. People go to the events being held. I wasn’t sure how many people would be at a block party or the Levitt, but there were a lot, which is cool.”

Their border collie mix is enjoying all the dog-friendly places around town, and they’re looking forward to outdoor exploration at area state parks.

Matt and Mikel Crispo's dog

Matt, a former college football player, has a list of games he wants to attend – from Augustana and University of Sioux Falls football to the Stampede, Canaries and future Augustana hockey.

“I love the promotion nights at the Canaries – there’s even games you can bring your dog,” he said.

For his own workouts, GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness has been a great fit, he said.

“I’ve been going to group classes at a GreatLIFE gym and people would welcome me and ask where I was from and say how nice it was to have us and give us good restaurant recommendations and things to see,” he said. “In Utah, the gyms are so crowded there are times you can barely get a machine and weights, and it’s a zoo. And I feel like GreatLIFE has so many gyms it keeps the crowds down. Everything is clean, and it’s three minutes from our house, so I can just get up and go.”

They both said the biggest standout about Sioux Falls is its friendliness.

“We talk to people wherever we go,” Mikel said. “I wondered how we were going to make friends here, but everyone is really friendly and nice.”

Are you ready to make your move to Sioux Falls? Connect with deniseg@siouxfalls.com to learn more about career opportunities here.

Family of 9 relocates from Canada to Sioux Falls, finds all-around positive move

About six months after his sister moved her family to Sioux Falls, Bryan Grim and his family followed.

“We were looking to get out of Canada for a while and see what the States was all about, specifically the Midwest,” he said. “And with my sister here, when we were looking at places, it naturally came to Sioux Falls.”

She told her brother “it’s way sunnier” compared with where they were from in Vancouver, she enjoyed her job in health care, “and the church community she joined was very welcoming, and for her family, that made it a lot easier transition.”

A job search online led Grim to Raven Industries, which embraced his experience in software engineering.

“As a software engineer, I had options in Sioux Falls – from agriculture to financial services – and my mom grew up on a dairy farm, so I always had the attraction to agriculture, which steered me in Raven’s direction.”

He and his wife, Leanne, moved last year with their family of seven kids and found a 6-acre hobby farm southwest of Sioux Falls.

Grim Family

“That was the other thing that impressed me about Raven – they made it clear it’s a family-friendly company, which was a big draw for me,” Grim said. “Looking at a job switch and a country switch in my mid-40s, I wanted it to be as easy as possible.”

At work, he now gets to use his skills working on cutting-edge ag technology designed to support farmers.

“I get to work on field computers that do a lot of guidance and steering for these big machines, and it’s pretty fun to be part of that,” he said.

Bryan Grim working at Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, SD

And at home, he gets to try his own hand at small-scale farming.

“We moved from a 6,000-square-foot lot in the suburbs, so it’s been a fun move,” he said.

“My wife is really embracing the culture, the free space we have and is starting to plant big gardens. We bought 40 chickens, so we’re going to see what we can do with that acreage, and she’s loving it. But we’re still 10 minutes from town, so everything is accessible.”

He also gets to spend time with his sister and her family of five kids. His own kids have loved the Great Plains Zoo and Butterfly House & Aquarium. And with dedicated hockey and softball players, “we’re at the Sanford Sports Complex multiple times per week,” Grim said.

“They’re all getting along pretty good with classmates and fellow church members, and the community seems to be really friendly. It sounds cliche, but when you move here, you do feel the friendliness.”

Grim family at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD

He also has plenty of company at Raven, which regularly hires nationwide and beyond.

“Raven has grown exponentially,” Grim said. “You talk to most people and they seem to have joined in the last few years. Plus, I have team members in Seattle, Billings (Montana) and in Minnesota. But there are a lot of people moving into Sioux Falls for Raven.”

This summer, the family looks forward to camping and getting to further explore the Sioux Falls region.

“People who talk about traffic here I don’t think have driven in other cities,” Grim added. “Being downtown for work is really nice, and the fact it doesn’t take an hour to get out of it is even nicer. In Vancouver, you go downtown, and it’s a two-hour drive. Here, I’m home in half an hour tops.”

Grim family at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD

The family’s experience reflects much about what new residents love about the Sioux Falls area, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Raven is such an importer of talent, and we’re so happy that Bryan and his extended family have found welcoming careers and communities within a community here,” she said.

“The fact that he’s able to put his software engineering skills to work in such a meaningful way is a huge win, as is how the family is able to enjoy all the best of Sioux Falls along with a rural lifestyle. We couldn’t be happier to welcome them not just to our community but to the U.S.”

Grim family stands in front of an American flag on the day they became U.S. citizens

Bryan Grim and his four oldest children on the day they became U.S. citizens.

Are you ready to make your move to Sioux Falls? Connect with deniseg@siouxfalls.com to learn more about career opportunities here.

Legacy of leaders lost honored on 30th Anniversary with Mayoral Proclamation

April 19th marked the 30th anniversary of that fateful day our state and community lost eight men. Sioux Falls Development Foundation representatives Roger Hainje, David Birkeland, and Angus Anson, along with Gov. George Mickelson and four state officials: Roland Dolly, Ron Reed, Ron Becker, and David Hansen perished as their plane went down returning from a mission to retain the John Morrell plant and the jobs it provided.

The Development Foundation honored former leaders and Governor Mickelson, with comments from Dave Link and Jim Wilcox, colleagues of the men, during a private event. Mayor TenHaken named April 19, 2023, Economic Development Leadership Day with a Mayoral Proclamation.

Hainje was president of both Forward Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation in 1993. Birkeland, an FSF II campaign leader, was Chairman of the Foundation; and Anson served as Foundation Vice Chair at the time. All were extremely involved in the early years of the Forward Sioux Falls program and served on the Joint Venture Management Committee. Board volunteers and Development Foundation staff stepped up after the loss, continuing the economic development legacy these men exemplified.

Historical Perspective – Roger Hainje

Economic Development Leadership Day mayoral proclamation

From Texas to South Dakota, family who braced for winter now embraces it

The Berger family got a full-on introduction to what a South Dakota winter can be like – and raves about their recent move anyway.

It all started when Travis Berger moved from Texas to Sioux Falls in February. He works in private equity and is a food scientist and chef doing product development for a local company.

While traveling here leading up to the move, “he was stuck in his hotel and got snowed in, and everything shut down,” his wife, Paige, said. “So there are people stuck in the hotel, and he literally hopped in the kitchen and helped feed everyone.”

Neither of them knew anything about South Dakota, and after several moves, they weren’t inclined to leave central Texas.

But after Travis came to Sioux Falls to interview late last year, “he kept saying, ‘Paige, the people are so nice.’ And I’m like, you know what, let’s do it,” she said. “And it’s true. What sold us are the people. Texas prides itself on Southern hospitality, nice people, manners, all that jazz. But South Dakota people kick Southern hospitality’s butt.”

The whole family of five – including 1-month Willa at the time – moved March 1. After buying their house through a virtual call, they’ve now moved in and are getting to know their neighborhood.

“We had just seen the house through pictures, and I am obsessed. I love it,” Paige said. “We lived in a nice neighborhood in Texas too, but here there are kids everywhere running around. It’s so safe. When we pulled up, kids were in everyone’s backyards and sledding. It was crazy. The neighbors were so nice immediately.”

Not only is their neighborhood like that, “the entire town is,” she continued. “I go grocery shopping, and it’s funny because when we lived in Oregon, for instance, people wouldn’t talk to each other. Here, at the grocery store even though I know no one, I might be there talking to strangers for 20 minutes. It’s welcoming. It’s warm despite the cold weather, and it’s a really, really nice culture.”

And speaking of the weather, they’ve embraced that too. Their home is minutes from Great Bear Ski Valley, so the kids already have been tubing.

Her oldest, 5-year-old Milam, starts soccer soon and then baseball, while 2-year-old Nila is registered for gymnastics.

“Our family is big in sports, so we caught the end of winter, which was really fun, and my husband and I are really looking forward to hunting season,” Paige said. “We don’t have any pheasants at all in Texas, and we can’t wait.”

While being mom to three young kids — and a new puppy, appropriately named Dakota — is her full-time job for now, she said she’s excited to connect in the Brandon Valley School District and become involved.

“Before in Texas, I worked with the school a bunch and coached and substitute taught, and I thought about running for school board, so I intend on being involved in the schools here as well as the churches,” she said.

The Berger family’s early experience is a great indicator of what awaits in Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“So often, we see families choose to relocate for one spouse’s job, and the other spouse quickly discovers what a fantastic move it is for them too,” she said.

“Whether Paige chooses to work or volunteer or become civically involved, she’s going to find that same welcoming attitude she’s already experienced. And along the way, the whole family is going to see how family-friendly this community is, from our safe neighborhoods to our terrific schools to the attractions and amenities that add to the quality of life here.”

And in maybe the most promising sign so far: When Paige asked her son if he would miss the snow when it melted, “he was actually sad,” she said. “Because he thought it would be here 24/7.”

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

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).

Sioux Falls metro area renters pay lower percentage of income on housing

While the cost of living is rising, renter households in the Sioux Falls area fare better than most peer communities in the region.

Newly released data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey provides the housing cost ratio (percentage of household income spent on housing costs) for every county in the nation.

Here’s how Sioux Falls compares:

Housing Cost Ratio

St. Paul, Ramsey County 29.8

Rochester, Olmsted County 28.6

Omaha, Douglas County 28.3

Minneapolis, Hennepin County 28.2

Des Moines, Polk County 26.9

Sioux City, Woodbury County 25.9

Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County 25.9

Sioux Falls, Lincoln County 25.5

Fargo, Cass County 25.3

Households are considered cost burdened when they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, mortgage, and other housing needs.

Sioux Falls is the 6th hardest working city in America

We work smarter, and harder

Welcome to Sioux Falls, SD, where our residents are among the hardest working people anywhere in the United States!

Recently, WalletHub ranked Sioux Falls as the 6th hardest-working city in America. Using factors like employment rate, work week hours, commute time, and community activism, the study confirmed that Sioux Falls a great place to work.

“In order to determine which cities outwork the rest of America, WalletHub compared the 116 largest cities across 11 key metrics,” the article publishing the findings says. “Our data set ranges from the employment rate to average weekly work hours to the share of workers with multiple jobs.”

To see the full methodology and how other cities compared, click ‘learn more’ below.