From Atlanta to Sioux Falls, couple with global history chooses S.D. after lots of research

Brian and Katherine Robinson began their move from Atlanta with this question: “Where do we not want to live?”

The couple, who’d spent 12 years overseas before moving back to the U.S., had found “Atlanta had gotten so big and had changed so much,” Brian said. “We thought about living overseas, but with COVID and the uncertainty, the U.S. is probably best for us. So we first blacked out all the areas we didn’t want to live.”

That left a large open space in the middle of the country, from Idaho to South Dakota. The Robinsons began their research from there.

Brian and Katherine Robinson

“Sioux Falls has a lot of good information about it online, there’s a lot of good vibe online about Sioux Falls, so we did a drive,” Brian said. “We came to Sioux Falls in August of last year and then went to Wyoming and Colorado to do a comparison.”

The more they thought about it, the move became clear.

“Sioux Falls is great because it’s big enough but not too big,” he said. “It’s a regional hub, so it has a lot of things a larger city would normally have but a city of 200,000 wouldn’t have. It has changing diversity, it’s growing, the economy is good, and people you talk to are really excited to be in Sioux Falls, so there’s a community aspect.”

They liked that it wasn’t a part of the country where they’d spent much time, “so for us it was another adventure,” Katherine said. “It came down to the in-person visits. We spent time downtown. It’s a very vibrant, exciting, warm, welcoming place, and I think that really did it for us. Being downtown, sitting at the Carpenter Bar, having a drink outside, it just felt really nice and hit a chord.”

Brian and Katherine Robinson

The Robinsons are able to do their work from largely anywhere. Katherine has spent a career in public health and works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brian’s retired from a diplomatic career in 2019 that took him to multiple continents. He now does health coaching and runs an online business sourcing and selling vintage clothing and decor.

“COVID allowed us a good solid number of months to soul search and figure out what’s important,” Katherine said. “We’re both in our early 50s, and as we enter this new phase, what is important and what do we really want? We don’t want the hustle and bustle of a big city and traffic. It was really about community and getting back to just living and being happy.”

They moved to Sioux Falls in January.

“We grew up in the South and did all our service overseas in the tropics or subtropics, so we never lived anywhere cold,” he said. “I don’t prefer the heat anyway, so to come here and have it chilly and cold, I kind of like it. It makes you think about weather in a different way. We check the weather every day and never did before, and it puts you more in touch with the natural environment because it has a larger impact on you day to day.”

They found a home in the McKennan Park neighborhood, which appealed to Brian’s affinity for historic preservation, and enjoy walking their neighborhood, visiting the park and frequenting nearby downtown restaurants.

Brian and Katherine Robinson

“We arrived during the Downtown Burger Battle, and we’re health coaches, so it’s probably not wise to have a burger every day, but we did have a chance to try a few of them,” Katherine said. “I realize it was a light winter, but we were prepared. If you’ve got the right equipment and clothing and attitude, you can live anywhere.”

Brian has joined the Founders Club of Startup Sioux Falls to connect with other entrepreneurs, and they’re both finding it easy to travel for work.

“The airport is great,” he said. “It’s a fantasy to leave your house and be at the gate in 20 minutes.”

The Robinsons are a perfect example of the many demographics of people being drawn to Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development at the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“We are just thrilled to have them here and that they’re already becoming connected to the community,” she said. “We are seeing more remote workers at all career stages realize how convenient and enjoyable it is to work from their new home in Sioux Falls.”

Brian and Katherine Robinson

For the Robinsons, Sioux Falls has provided a warm welcome and multiple reasons to look forward to their future here.

“People are super friendly and very welcoming, and the amount of arts in the city is really refreshing and nice,” Katherine said. “I love the sculptures and the murals, the Washington Pavilion always has a million things going on, and I love that there’s a lot of outreach to the community and the youth.”

They also enjoy discovering “all the shops and small businesses being opened by recent immigrants,” Brian added. “That’s really exciting. When you think about it, few people in South Dakota have been here that long, so many of us are coming from the same background and moving in.”

Are you looking to make a move to Sioux Falls? Visit siouxfalls.com to learn more about the community, or email deniseg@siouxfalls.com to get connected to career opportunities.

Groundbreaking Season is Here

Our favorite time of the year: Groundbreaking Season

If your business is planning a construction expansion or a new facility in Sioux Falls, contact the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Over the past six decades, the Development Foundation has hosted hundreds of groundbreakings.

We make it easy for you by providing you with a commemorative mini-shovel for display, bringing the gold shovels for the digging ceremony, inviting media and the business community, and helping you to prepare an agenda for the event.

Leah Blom Headshot
Want a groundbreaking? Contact

Leah Blom

Social and Digital Media Specialist, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

Affordable Housing Solutions breaks ground with strong public-private partnership

Building and construction season has begun, which means the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s groundbreaking season has started as well.

Groundbreakings are special to the hosting businesses and organizations as they mark new chapters for growth and prosperity, but they also hold a special significance through the lens of Forward Sioux Falls.

Growth like Sioux Falls has experienced has been the vision of Forward Sioux Falls since its beginning. As our city grows, community leaders have managed growth with careful planning and consideration of many factors, including workforce and housing.

One recent groundbreaking celebrated the beginning of an exciting accessible housing project.

Affordable Housing Solutions (AHS) will be building six townhome/twin home units on South Sycamore Avenue. Each unit will be sold to an income-eligible buyer that meets the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) income guidelines of being at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. The entire project is expected to cost $1.6 million, and will be complete by November 2022.

Affordable Housing Solutions Project Rendering

“There is such a need for affordable housing in Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities that adding home ownership opportunities for families who meet the required income guidelines can feel a sense of pride in achieving the American dream of home ownership,” Brent Tucker, Director of housing Development for AHS, said. “Building affordable housing developments in existing neighborhoods brings a positive impact on the surrounding neighbors.”

The project was supported by the City of Sioux Falls Accessible Housing Advisory Board (AHAB), a cooperative effort between the City of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County. One function of the AHAB is to oversee the distribution of HUD grants, such as the Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) program.

The HOME program allocates funds to expand the supply of safe, sanitary, and affordable housing for very low-income and low-income families (source: City of Sioux Falls). As AHS brought forth this qualifying project, the AHAB partnered with AHS to provide $240,000 in HOME funds.

“Addressing our housing challenges will continue to happen through a steady drumbeat of innovative programs, partnerships, and ideas,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said. “Collaborating with our non-profit housing partners is an integral aspect of our 2026 Housing Action Plan, and we are so appreciative of Affordable Housing Solutions and their local lending partners for making these homes available to families in our community.”

HOME grants also require a 25% non-federal match from local resources. AHS received $53,000 from Wells Fargo and $90,000 from First PREMIER Bank, demonstrating the ways our community continues to invest in the future of Sioux Falls.

“We are blessed with a strong and growing economy in Sioux Falls, but it is also important for us to acknowledge some of the challenges that come with that,” Dave Rozenboom, Forward Sioux Falls Cabinet Co-Chair and President of First PREMIER Bank, said. “Workforce development, childcare and affordable housing are some of the pressing issues we are currently facing as a community. In each case, there is no single answer or magic bullet, but rather the solutions are found by people and organizations working together to do their part – one project or initiative at a time. In this case, a couple of businesses in the private sector (First PREMIER and Wells Fargo) were able to partner with the non-profit sector (Affordable Housing Solutions) and the public sector (City of Sioux Falls and HUD) to turn this project into reality. No one of us could have done it on our own, it took each of us doing our part.”

Thanks to strong public-private partnerships like this, Sioux Falls continues to benefit from the growth we are experiencing. Coupled with the initiatives of Forward Sioux Falls, we will keep working to add jobs, grow businesses and enhance our region’s quality of life.

SFDF launches workforce marketing campaign

In September 2021, the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) awarded the Sioux Falls Development Foundation a $50,000 grant for workforce recruitment marketing.

The grant comes on the heels of the SFDF’s first workforce marketing campaign, WORK Sioux Falls. Using insights from that campaign, this campaign will be purely digital and video ads. The ads will be targeted geographically to Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and California to labor forces in healthcare, cyber/tech, and building and skilled trades.

OVERVIEW OF MEDIA PLACEMENT STRATEGY

The goal of the marketing campaign is to inform out-of-state job seekers that South Dakota businesses are hiring with competitive pay and great benefits. The SFDF has been working with a South Dakota advertising agency to develop a media strategy, along with digital and video ads to showcase Sioux Falls as a great place to live and have a career. Below is a sampling of the ads that started running April 10, and will be running through the rest of the year.

FREEDOM WORKS HERE ADS

In addition to the static display and banner ads above, a video ad was also created and will run in the same target markets. You can view it below:

“It’s no secret that workforce is one of the biggest challenges for businesses right now,” said Bob Mundt, President and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “As the leading organization dedicated to improving the economy of Sioux Falls, we’ve been proud to offer innovative workforce programs, but this grant funding gives us the opportunity to do even more, and that’s something we’re really excited about.”

This program was made possible by funding from Forward Sioux Falls, and we look forward to sharing the success after the campaign is complete.

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Forward Sioux Falls logo

 

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

In Sioux Falls, Michigan native by way of Colorado finds happier, healthier move

Joel Kaskinen claims a “wanderlust spirit” – and with good reason.

The Michigan native’s early career ideas spanned from elementary education to speech, language and hearing and finally to public relations and communications before a passion for higher education became his direction.

“I was an RA and orientation leader during my time at school and decided I can do communications working anything and I’m going to put that skill to use in higher education,” he said.

“I just wanted to move out of Michigan and go somewhere I’d never been and do something totally different.”

He applied to graduate schools nationwide, from New Mexico to Boston, until USD contacted him from a job application portal where he’d submitted an application.

“They had some graduate assistant positions they were looking to fill and saw my profile and reached out,” he said. “I flew to Vermillion to check things out. It was a small town, not really what I was looking for, but I had great faith in the people who had reached out to me, and I loved the campus and the students and said I’m going to try it. Why not?”

That was in 2016. To be honest, he didn’t love everything about the experience. But he found what became the most important thing.

“The thing I loved about USD and Vermillion is it brought me my closest friends,” Kaskinen said. “My closest friends are here. Everyone I hold nearest and dearest I met at USD.”

And that’s why, after leaving South Dakota for nearly four years working in higher education in Colorado, the 28-year-old came back.

“I was going through some mental health stuff,” he shared. “And I wanted to be with people who are going to uplift me and fulfill me. So I came to Sioux Falls.”

In Colorado, he’d experienced tragedy three times – losing three students he worked with to suicide in a year.

“It really kind of broke me in terms of my morale and my spirit,” he said. “I didn’t feel like the community I was living in supported mental health. I didn’t feel like I had the resources I needed. I wanted to support the students, and that weighed heavily on me. I faced my own suicidal ideation and self-harm, and it led me to leave.”

Since coming to Sioux Falls early last year, “it’s been incredible,” Kaskinen said. “It’s really easy to make connections here, and I already feel like I’m integrated into the community and into this city.”

He also has found a job that is bringing him both fulfillment and healing.

Kaskinen is the community engagement coordinator for Lost & Found, a nonprofit whose mission is suicide prevention in young adults.

“I love my job because it’s really impactful and purposeful,” he said. “It’s something I hold near and dear. I turned my pain into my passion. We have lot of work to do and growth to make happen, but I do think we have opportunity for growth and movement.”

Just as important, he now feels part of a community that care about mental health, he said.

“I was living a shell of the person I am,” he said.

“I was isolated in my apartment and lost that luster for community, and being here in Sioux Falls – totally uprooting myself and distancing myself – has helped me be able to share my story. Being around a community that supports mental health fosters and perpetuates this vulnerability that allows me to feel comfortable sharing, and honestly it’s helped heal me and realize my work is important and impactful.”

Additionally, he now sits on multiple task forces and coalitions in the city and is helping with communications and social media for a new professional women’s soccer team coming to town.

“I feel like I can always find a friend,” he added. “Whether it’s in line for a beer at Fernson or walking through the Pavilion, it’s easy to find a friend. And honestly, it’s the thing I was most nervous about. I had my close circle but knew I couldn’t always hang out with them. But I’ve gone to events, networking, the Young Professionals Network, and I’ve made good friends.”

His experience is one that others can replicate in Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Community, career and cause is the mantra for this generation, and Sioux Falls delivers it,” she said. “We couldn’t be happier that Joel is healthier and happier in Sioux Falls. He’s absolutely right that the support system exists here for your career development, your personal growth and your social life. We can’t wait to see how he continues to help build our community.”

While at USD, Kaskinen would spend the occasional weekend in Sioux Falls but said he has been happily surprised by all he has discovered since moving here.

“This is the biggest city I’ve lived in, and there’s an abundance of opportunities, whether it’s a show at the Pavilion or State Theatre or Orpheum, last summer I started going to free concerts at the Levitt, I’m a huge runner so the trail system is awesome, and the River Greenway is something I love to do,” he said. “And I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of new food and drink and my new fun cultural options. I love that too.”

Are you looking to make a move to Sioux Falls? Email deniseg@siouxfalls.com or visit siouxfalls.com to get connected to opportunities in your field.

Dallas couple drawn to Sioux Falls by work, friends

He’s from Kansas; she’s from Indiana.

They met in Dallas, Texas.

And as of the past few weeks, Sioux Falls has now become home.

“It really is a community,” Preston Schraeder said. “We felt that even when we were visiting.”

Preston and his wife, Sherree, discovered Sioux Falls through their friends Tyson and Nikki Ellenbecker.

“Tyson was one of my roommates in dental school at Creighton,” Preston said. “And his family is based in South Dakota, and his uncle has been an owner in Southwestern Dental for about 20 years. Tyson had always said such great things about Sioux Falls, and then it became less joking about it and more thinking it was an option to move here.”

Preston and Sherree Schraeder, and Nikki and Tyson Ellenbecker

As someone without a family history in dentistry, Preston had to grow his own practice. He followed college friends to Dallas, where he met Sherree, who works in medical equipment and supply distribution.

“I went to the University of Texas in Austin for college and didn’t want to leave after graduation,” she said. “I just loved it so much, the weather was great, and I had a job lined up after school, which took me to Dallas where I met Preston.”

But after several years, they determined the Dallas area wasn’t where they saw their future.

“We felt maybe there were better opportunities, specifically for Preston, outside of Dallas,” Sherree said. “There were things that maybe weren’t ideal long term as a place to plant our roots.”

Still, “for us to finally come to the decision that Sioux Falls was a good place for us took a journey,” she continued.

They visited with their good friends several times and got to know the Ellenbeckers’ friends.

“With all the couples we’re friends with, usually one person in the marriage is from here or went to college here and they’re moving back,” Sherree said.

“A lot of them are between 30 and 40 and starting families, and they’ve come back here for a reason, and they like it, and we like these people. So I feel like we’re making a good decision. We’re moving where we have friends, and they’ve created a small community around them, and all those people have been very welcoming and excited we’re moving here.”

The move solidified when Preston unexpectedly had the opportunity to purchase Riverview Dental, where he’s now seeing patients at 2425 W. 57th St.

“My goal is to have a very traditional family practice,” he said. “It has a great patient base already, and we were very lucky to retain almost every staff member. I walked in, and it was perfect, it was what I wanted to create, so it’s nice to not have to go through the growing pains because it’s here and ready to go.”

As a medical hub, Sioux Falls becomes a natural fit for a wide variety of professionals, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“No matter what your career stage or specialty, you’re going to find a fit here,” she said.

“And for someone like Preston in dentistry, when you consider our growing population, the demand is going to be there. And for Sherree, whether she chooses to work remotely or locally, her skills are going to be in demand whenever she might want to consider her opportunities.”

Sherree is still in the process of moving from Dallas and said her early impressions about life in Sioux Falls are positive.

“I was surprised by how many restaurants and boutiques are downtown,” she said.

“I feel like every time we drive through, no matter what the temperature, people are outside walking around. And I don’t think COVID has caused any places to shut down. It seems like it’s alive and well, and that’s really nice to see. It’s a little smaller than Dallas, but I think there’s a lot here and everyone really loves living here.”

Preston agrees.

“It’s amazing how courteous and kind people are,” he said. “Texas is great and has Southern appeal, but it’s also a big city, and people are moving in from everywhere, and sometimes you get a little lost. It’s crazy traffic. You don’t feel that here. But at the same time, we go downtown and there are great restaurants, and it really does provide.”

For now, they’re glad to have found an apartment and are house hunting in south Sioux Falls. Sherree anticipates it won’t be long before their two dogs are making themselves at home on the city recreation trail.

“We lived near a walking path in Dallas and used it all the time, so I anticipate they’ll be running around Sioux Falls in no time,” she said. “We’ve been given really great recommendations. Everyone’s suggestions have been so helpful, so it makes us feel right at home.”

Sioux Falls’ Estimated Population Surpasses 200,000

A city of 200,000

The following is a news release from the City of Sioux Falls.

Upon another strong year of construction, strong job growth, and improvements within our community’s quality of life standards, Sioux Falls continues to see its population increase.

The population of Sioux Falls now is estimated at 202,600, a growth of 6,750 people over the last year. This 6,750-person increase over the past 12 months means the city grew at a rate of 3.45 percent.

Historically, Sioux Falls has averaged a 4,280-person annual increase for more than a decade (2.40 percent annually). In 2020, the city’s population grew by 5,100 (2.7 percent).

The population estimate is calculated by Planning and Development Services, based on a variety of data points from the U.S. Census Bureau and local building permit information.

Move from Idaho leads to Crumbl Cookies manager going ‘all-in on Sioux Falls’

This was the deal: Move his family to Sioux Falls, open a couple of cookie shops and move on in a few years.

Colby Wilson and his wife, Janessa, had never been to the city before when the topic came up last winter. He was a project manager for a health system in Idaho; she was moving toward nursing school.

But when his childhood friend Brock Stokes approached him about helping expand Crumb Cookies to Sioux Falls, he was ready to listen.

“I had been in college at Utah State where Sawyer Helmsley started Crumbl in 2017, and I knew him from playing baseball growing up, so I had kept my eye on Crumbl, and I knew they had something going, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Wilson said.

“Brock told me he had just franchised some locations in Sioux Falls and was looking for someone to manage them, so after talking about what Sioux Falls had to offer, it got us really excited, and my wife and I decided to pursue the opportunity.”

They visited for the first time in early May before making a final decision.

“We wanted to be in the community and go to church and see what it would be like to live here, and we absolutely loved it,” he said. “It was a lot of fun on Phillips Avenue, and we had an opportunity to attend a local church and got to know some folks who were super friendly. Good food, good people, we couldn’t stay away.”

They moved in July and opened Crumbl Cookies at the end of the month to record crowds.

“As soon as the store opened, this community was so fantastic,” Wilson said. “Let’s just say Sioux Falls loves our cookies. It was absolutely insane.”

And the Wilsons soon realized they loved Sioux Falls enough to buy a house right away. They’ve moved into a west-side neighborhood near Roosevelt High School and have connected to the community in a big way.

“We’ve got season passes to the zoo and spent a ton of time there, the Pavilion, Butterfly House & Aquarium. We have a membership at Sanford Wellness, so we spend a lot of time at the pool,” he said. “I’ve started to do a little cycling – I’ve been a runner in the past – and there’s a fantastic trail system, and we love dogs. The dog parks here are absolutely fantastic. And we have two small children, so it’s been fun having access to so many parks.”

They’ve also established a tradition of Sunday breakfast at the Phillips Avenue Diner, explored SculptureWalk and toured holiday lights.

“It’s been tough being away from family, but so quickly we’ve gotten friends and people we consider family,” Wilson said.

The family’s experience is one shared by many others, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“We hear this continually – once families discover Sioux Falls, they become connected to this community easily and in many ways,” she said.

“In Colby’s case, it’s especially fun to see he moved for a role in the retail industry and is experiencing such a good fit. We have so many outstanding retail opportunities, whether you’re looking to be an owner/manager or grow your career on the culinary or customer service side. You don’t hear as much about people relocating for these roles, so Colby is an example of why it’s absolutely something for retail professionals to consider.”

It has been so busy at Crumbl, Janessa has been helping out there while still exploring options for nursing programs.

“She wants to pursue an advanced nursing degree, and there are tons of options,” Wilson said. “Pick a university, and they’ve got a good program. It’s just tailoring to our schedule and how quickly she wants to go through a program.”

The coming year will bring new developments on the cookie front, too, as the Wilsons are helping open the city’s second store at Dawley Farm Village later in the year.

And as for the original agreement – spending two or three years in Sioux Falls – that could be changing too.

“We truly are enjoying it so much that my wife is starting to talk about five- and 10-year plans and committing to this community,” Wilson said. “We’re all-in on Sioux Falls. We’ve dug ourselves into the community as quickly as possible. We love it.”

Sioux Falls has an overall “A” Niche grade

Sioux Falls is among the best cities to live in according to Niche.com based on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities.  Niche bases their rankings on data from the U.S. Census, FBI, BLS, CDC, and other sources.

Sioux Falls ranked 53rd with an overall “A” Niche grade.  Factors include:

A             Good for Families

A-            Jobs

A-            Public Schools

A-            Nightlife

A-            Commute

B+           Housing

B+           Cost of Living

B+           Diversity

B             Health & Fitness

B-           Outdoor Activities

C+           Weather

C+           Crime & Safety

Click “Learn more” below for additional information.

Out-of-state Job-seekers Relocate to Sioux Falls for Variety of Career Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Varied opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also is enjoying his move and his new career.

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

Executives find fit too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logistics Companies in Expansion Mode Find Fast Success at Foundation Park

Nordica Warehouses & Lineage Logistics are in expansion mode

It started with 200,000 square feet.

Then an additional 105,000 square feet.

And Nordica Warehouses wasn’t done yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Afdahl, President, Nordica Warehouses

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Become a Member

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You Existing Industries!

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

President’s Report: Forward Sioux Falls Powers Ahead

President’s Report

Forward Sioux Falls Powers Ahead

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

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

Talent Attraction, Retention & Development

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

Business Retention, Expansion & Attraction

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

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

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

Business Advocacy, Airport & Quality of Place

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

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

Bob Mundt
Story by

Bob Mundt

President/CEO, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

Forward Sioux Falls Launches Public Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

40-person campaign cabinet

New Forward Sioux Falls 2026 initiatives include:

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

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

Support for REACH to expand their workplace literacy program.

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

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

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

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