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.

Career Connections Visits April 2022

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is working to connect students with in-demand careers in Sioux Falls through our Career Connections program. In April 2022, the students toured businesses in healthcare, construction, and municipal government. Watch this video to learn how the visits changed students’ perspectives on these careers.

 

CAREER CONNECTIONS VISITS APRIL 2022

Denise Guzzetta
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CAREER CONNECTIONS PROGRAM?

DENISE GUZZETTA

VP of Talent and Workforce Development, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

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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.

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 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.

Your Future STEM 2022

Your Future STEM is a workforce program of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. The goal of the program is to immerse students into the in-demand job opportunities that careers in STEM can offer.

In this video, we recap our March 2022 Your Future STEM event with middle schoolers at Sioux Falls Christian School. With help from Tessier’s and ISG, students learned the mathematics and proportions needed to mix concrete and structural applications through an experiment.

 

YOUR FUTURE STEM 2022

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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.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation launches UPSKILL Sioux Falls

Over the last few months, supply chain challenges have spotlighted the importance of the transportation industry. Without trucks and drivers, our economy would come to a standstill.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation, in partnership with Southeast Technical College (STC) and the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), has created a new program to increase the number of CDL drivers in our community.

UPSKILL Sioux Falls is a cost-sharing program that reimburses employers for Class B CDL classroom training. The employer shares in the training cost by paying for the drive time requirement and the final DOT field exam cost. All costs will initially be paid by the business. The business then submits to the SFDF for reimbursement of classroom training.

Cost breakdown of upskill sioux falls

Eligibility/requirements for participation & reimbursement:

  • Business will pay CDL driver a minimum $20.00 per hour upon certification*
    • *Employees currently receiving $20.00 per hour must receive a minimum $1.00 per hour wage increase upon licensing
  • Business is a Forward Sioux Falls investor or a member of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation
  • Employer must provide proof of course completion, training time, and passage of final DOT exam.

Please see the guide below for more information on the trainings conducted through STC, and email Sharman Smith at sharmans@siouxfalls.com with any questions or to request to sign up.

STC Class B CDL Trainings

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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.

Talent Thursday with Jason Herrboldt

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that features a professional in the Sioux Falls area who speaks about why Sioux Falls is the perfect place to live out their career.

For Thursday, March 31, 2022, we caught up with Jason Herrboldt, Sioux Falls Market President for First Bank and Trust. He shares how the culture of FB&T has helped their company navigate workforce challenges, as well as the many career opportunities available.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CST on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here: https://www.facebook.com/developsf.

 

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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.

Collaborative strategies for career services and local chamber of commerce

When it comes to workforce development, a strategy for success is forging a collaborative relationship with businesses, educational partners, and economic development organizations.

Sioux Falls is a great community for partnerships like this, which is why our Vice President of Talent and Workforce Development, Denise Guzzetta, recently contributed to a publication with the National Career Development Association.

Co-authored with Billie Streufert, Assistant Vice Provost of Student Success at Augustana University, the article shares the importance of such relationships and the strategies we’ve used to help our businesses fill their talent pipeline.

Denise Guzzetta
Want to take part in our workforce programs? Contact:

Denise Guzzetta

Vice President of Talent and Workforce Development, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

Talent Thursday with Mariah Burroughs

Talent Thursday is a weekly social media livestream event that features a professional in the Sioux Falls area who speaks about why Sioux Falls is the perfect place to live out their career.

For Thursday, March 24, we caught up with Mariah Burroughs of ISG, a multi-disciplinary architecture, engineering, environmental, and planning firm with an office in Sioux Falls. As a talent engagement specialist with ISG, Mariah shared about ISG’s organizational culture and their strategy for attracting and engaging talent.

Talent Thursday is held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. CST on the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Facebook page. Follow here: https://www.facebook.com/developsf.

 

Talent Thursday with Maddy Roberts

For Talent Thursday on March 17, 2022, we sat down with Maddy Roberts, an HR Generalist at Midwestern Mechanical, a company based in Sioux Falls offering plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and fire protection services. She shares about her career journey and the need for attracting workforce to the skilled trades.

 

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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.

SFDF Tailgate at the Summit 2022

In celebration of the 2022 Summit League Basketball Tournaments, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation took the opportunity to connect with college students from around the upper Midwest as they cheered on their schools. The “Tailgate at the Summit” event reached hundreds of these students with the message that Sioux Falls is a great place to live, work, and grow. Watch this video to see a recap of the event!

 

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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.

After move from Virginia, world-class athlete, specialized doctor are making Sioux Falls home

As Zack and Val Jensen drove across the country from Washington to their home in Virginia, the exit for Sioux Falls and the beginning of a world hockey championship happened to align at the same time.

So the Jensens pulled off the interstate, found a Buffalo Wild Wings and spent the night in Sioux Falls.

Before they hit the road again, they visited Bread & Circus Sandwich Kitchen downtown and took a brief look around the city.

“We visited the Falls and drove around and thought it was a cool city,” Val said.

Little did they know, they’d be back.

Months later, a recruiter reached out to Zack, a doctor who specializes in osteopathic neuromusculoskeletal medicine.

“Have you ever heard of Sioux Falls?” the recruiter asked.

It seemed meant to be.

They moved here last summer, and Zack has started seeing patients at the newly built Allure Health in south Sioux Falls.

“I thought Dr. Jeremy Storm had a really good vision for the clinic,” he said. “I tend to be more lifestyle-focused, and the opportunity to join a physician-owned group instead of working for a health system was appealing.”

Zack, 44, grew up in California and joined the U.S. Air Force Academy – a career that brought him to Italy, Texas, South Carolina and Arizona before he went to medical school, did residency in Kentucky and ended up in working in Virginia, where he met Val as a master’s student at Liberty University.

Her journey is even more incredible – and timely.

She grew up in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on the border with Russia. She began playing hockey at age 6, playing “seven years at a high level with boys” and had an opportunity to come to the U.S. for to play at 13, until there was a problem with her visa.

“So I had to change sports,” she said. “My brother was really into boxing, so I decided to try that.”

Three months later, she was a national champion in her class. She spent six years on the Ukraine national boxing team, winning three medals in 2015 at the World Goju-Ryu Karate Championship in full contact and even qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics before an injury requiring surgery sidelined her.

“I switched back to hockey because I really missed it,” she said. “I said if I’m not going to come back now, I’ll never try to pursue my dreams, and I ended up playing pro hockey. I played in Russia for a year, Canada for a year and then committed to Liberty University to play college hockey, and that’s how I ended up coming to the U.S.”

At age 24, she’s continuing to pursue her hockey dreams. She commutes from Sioux Falls to the Twin Cities multiple times a month to play for a team in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, playing alongside Olympians and others at the top of the sport.

“I drive four hours there and four hours back, and it’s crazy, but it’s the only way I can do it and keep playing hockey because Sioux Falls doesn’t have it yet and Minneapolis is pretty big on hockey.”

She is becoming connected to the local hockey community, though, and is excited to help it evolve.

“I’ve started to coach, so it’s great, and Sioux Falls is growing bigger every year, and I’m excited to see how it will explode here,” she said.

She’s even using her expertise in the sport to support her home country, where her mother, brother and many friends still live.

“I’m on the phone with them every other day,” she said. “My mom is in a safer spot, and my brother is on the border with Romania helping families and people move out from hot zones, so he’s engaged in a community that helps people, and I try to help from here as much as I can through skill session fundraisers.”

While in Ukraine, she attended law school before coming to the U.S. and worked with the local government in Kharkiv on various projects.

“We brought some changes to the law and were focused on how to make my city a bigger and better place for youth to live and how I would develop sports in the city,” she said. “It’s so painful to see because I grew up there and sort of helped to build that city. I did projects with those kids, and now they’re bombing those kids, so it’s been rough.”

She hopes to bring similar efforts to Sioux Falls.

“I’m excited to get involved in Sioux Falls to help build an even bigger sport community here,” she said. “I think it’s a really great town. I really enjoy the community here. There are a lot of great young people who are starting their business and a lot of opportunity to grow your business, and I think it’s going to be great to be in a smaller town but have the ability to grow it bigger.”

Her husband agreed.

“It’s a top city for entrepreneurship and growth, which is something we were looking for,” he said. “I really like the people I’ve worked with so far. And we’re getting to know a lot of people.”

He plans to serve in the South Dakota Air National Guard, and they both enjoy hiking, hunting and fishing nearby.

“We just couldn’t be more happy to welcome the Jensens to Sioux Falls,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“They have highlighted so many of the reasons that make this community attractive to those at all career stages and backgrounds. This is an incredible place for medical professions, entrepreneurs and people with a passion for sports and becoming involved. We can’t wait to see this couple continue to make their mark here.”

Building game-changing talent strategy starts with connecting here

No matter what your industry, there’s likely talent waiting to support your business – if you know where to look.

“We understand that workforce is a shared, significant challenge for our business community,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“Our approach is to try and turn that challenge into an opportunity as we help businesses find the talent they need now and in the future.”

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation takes a multifaceted approach to doing that, beginning before students graduate high school and continuing through their college experience.

Career Connections

When a student is exposed to work opportunities while still in high school, it can make a strong impression that resonates well after graduation.

The Development Foundation launched Career Connections in 2020 as a pilot program. It’s designed for the 30 percent of high school students who have little to no post-secondary plans, serving as an introduction to industries and careers within the Sioux Falls region.

Starting with 59 students rotating through five organizations, the program has grown quickly in popularity among educators, businesses and students, reaching more than 400 students who chose among 38 firms in 2021.

“The response has been tremendous from our community. Our partner organizations see the value of investing time and resources to expose them to the career and educational pathways available to them in the Sioux Falls community,” Guzzetta said.

One of those partners is Graham Tire, where students learn about opportunities in the auto industry.

“We need workers,” president David Mickelson said. “This program has opened the employment pipeline to high schools, which is something we needed to do.”

The data behind the program is encouraging. Career Connections has helped 72 percent of high school seniors with post-secondary and employment plans after graduation.

Lincoln High School seniors Abshir Ibrahim, Kishmar Eberline, Aleyda Callejas Cruz, Christina Furula, Alfred Toe and Junior Meselu are some of the many college-bound students thanks to their participation in the Career Connections program.

“Use the opportunities that you get and others wish they had because maybe one day you might give them one,” said Cruz, talking about what the Career Connections program means to her.

Cruz plans to study business at Southeast Technical College.

Ibrahim, inspired by his visit to LifeScape, applied and has been accepted into the University of South Dakota’s nursing program.

“Working directly with the teachers and students has enabled us to identify barriers and apply resources and help immediately to the students,” Guzzetta said.

The Career Connections program is available in six of our community’s largest high schools. The program is looking to expand next year to help define more career and educational pathways for students after graduation. To learn more about participation, email deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

 Connecting in college

As students advance through college, the Development Foundation continues to connect them with Sioux Falls and the career opportunities available here.

When the pandemic began in 2020, the Development Foundation innovated and flawlessly transitioned programming from in person to virtual.

Digital enhancements included establishing a strong presence on Handshake, the largest collegiate online network dedicated to underserved students and alumni. This platform has simplified the communication and engagement process with administrators, professors and students.

“We enabled several ways to help organizations to connect and engage talent using Handshake, from programs, internships and employment opportunities,” Guzzetta said.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Handshake network has grown to more than 2 million students in less than two years.

For in-person experiences, new approaches to internships are becoming an innovative way for businesses to establish relationships with future employees.

In the fall 2021, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the city of Sioux Falls collaborated and launched a pilot micro internship program with the University of South Dakota’s Beacom School of Business.

Over eight weeks, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation helped 30 very motivated, talented college juniors and seniors with placement. Students engaged in intensive learning projects and experiences in financial services, construction, land development, manufacturing, government and nonprofits to apply knowledge to practical and real-life work experiences.

“Internships are increasingly becoming more the norm for students of all ages. Internships are evolving to year-round experiences for students,” Guzzetta said. “We are at the beginning stage with these experimental experiences, seeing demand increase daily for micro and project-based internships.”

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation plans to build on the robust internship program this year, with more students from USD and a new cohort from Augustana University to help smaller and midsize businesses attract the talent they need.

“Now is the time to get connected, so we can begin bringing talent into your organization that will help meet your workforce needs today and in the future,” Guzzetta said. “We’re making a difference both for students and for businesses, and we’re positioned to build on that success.”

Talent Thursday with James Payer II

Talent Thursday for February 17, 2022, features James Payer II, Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He shares how he’s found Sioux Falls to be the perfect fit for his career, community, and cause. Tune in to our Facebook page each Thursday at 3 p.m. (CST) to hear from Sioux Falls residents and their stories of their career journey.

 

 

SFDF shares updates on workforce programs

As we look to 2026, we continue to view workforce as a key outcome of the Forward Sioux Falls campaign. The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is excited to report progress on our current workforce programs, and also to share new programs that will help fill the workforce pipeline in the Sioux Falls area.

Career Connections

A misconception about workforce development is that it only involves filling open positions. While this is one of the end goals of our programs, we have strategically started outreach efforts in our middle and high schools to support students and encourage them to seek high-demand careers after completing their high school education.

One of these programs is Career Connections. We’ve partnered with Brandon Valley, West Central, Harrisburg, Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Washington high schools to offer a weekly job shadowing experience that immerses these students into high-demand careers. There’s also an off-campus component that allows students to visit businesses in our key industries. Site visits from the 2021 Career Connections program included Electronic Systems Inc., Deffenbaugh Homes, Marmen Energy, and Grand Prairie Foods.

Many of these students are first-generation Americans and English is their second language. As Sioux Falls becomes more diverse, we must continue to reach these populations. To date, we’ve reached 461 students through this program, and it’s making a difference. Aleyda Callejas Cruz, a Career Connections student, shared why the program has been valuable to her and why she’d encourage other students to participate.

 

Aleyda Callejas Cruz, a Career Connections student at Lincoln High School.

“Use the opportunities that you get and others wish they had because maybe one day you might give them one.”

If your business would like to host a Career Connections visit, please contact deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

Recruitment Council

On Thursday, Feb. 3, we hosted our first Recruitment Council meeting of 2022. The Recruitment Council is a monthly meeting open to business leaders, HR professionals, and education and career guidance professionals to educate on best practices for attracting, retaining, and developing talent.

 

Recruitment Council

 

The first meeting of the year focused on internships. Attendees listened to a presentation on “4 innovative ways to increase your ROI through internships,” followed by a Q&A panel featuring Dr. Venky Venkatachalam (Dean of the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business) and Tegan Molden (employee benefits specialist with Marsh McLennan Agency in Sioux Falls). The panel was moderated by Jodi Schwan (founder and publisher of SiouxFalls.Business), and attendees received great insight into best practices for internships as a way to fill their talent needs. If you are interested in joining our Workforce Information Now (WIN) email list to stay up to date on the latest workforce development events, please contact deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

UPSKILL Sioux Falls Program

In August, the SFDF received notification that we’d received a $100,000 workforce marketing and incentive grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). 50 % of this grant is to be used for workforce incentives or upskilling programs. In working with our partners at the South Dakota Association of General Contractors (AGC) and Southeast Technical College (STC), we identified a critical need for enhanced training for first-time Commercial Drivers License (CDL) applicants.

New federal requirements for entry-level driver training for the CDL went into effect on Feb. 7, and apply to all entry-level drivers seeking the following licenses:

  • Class A or Class B CDL for the first time
  • Upgrading an existing Class B CDL to Class A CDL
  • Obtaining a first-time school bus (S), passenger (P) or hazardous materials (H) endorsement

Courses will be instructed through STC and will be cost split between SFDF, GOED, and the businesses participating. This cost structure is stipulated by the grant, but still allows businesses to receive upskilling for their employee(s) at a fraction of what the cost would be under normal circumstances.

Our current partners offering this CDL upskilling include: K and J Trucking, Inc., South Dakota Trucking Association, and Southeast Technical College. If your business has a need for training CDL drivers, please contact deniseg@siouxfalls.com.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation anticipates launching the workforce upskilling program in April 2022.