Arc of Dreams Sioux Falls SD
Back Directions Newsletter

Forward Sioux Falls: a look back and a look ahead

  • October 2, 2023

By Mike Lynch, Director of Investor Relations – Forward Sioux Falls

Those of us who have lived in Sioux Falls all our lives, or perhaps a long period of time, recognize that this community is special.

During the 1980s, business leaders saw the potential of how it could become an even greater city. There were opportunities to diversify the economy and take Sioux Falls from what was then a regional hub to a city of national prominence. To do this, however, there would need to be an ambitious marketing effort as well as recruiting both businesses and people to take us to that next level.

It was not always an easy road. Some community members felt issuing bonds to fund new projects was too risky and not fiscally responsible. Many with this perspective did not want Sioux Falls to grow. Local leaders recognized that in order to overcome this sentiment and advance our community, an organized and dedicated effort would be needed.

To have a significant impact, it was decided that a centralized focus with dedicated planning and resources would be required. As the business community had great respect for both the Chamber and Development Foundation, forming a partnership between the two and creating Forward Sioux Falls was the most appropriate way to meet these lofty goals.

The Chamber’s Evan Nolte and Development Foundation’s Roger Hainje began conversations with National Community Development Services (NCDS) Founder Howard Benson. NCDS was based in Atlanta and had facilitated successful economic development programs in both Atlanta and Denver. Creating a five-year program would allow adequate time to do the important work within each of the program initiatives.

From there, the first Forward Sioux Falls program was established and has to the present day, adhered to the following structure:

  • A new program is freshly imagined to ensure the business community’s most acute economic development and workforce needs are addressed.
  • Program initiatives are formulated.
  • The campaign is conducted, and funds are raised to fund the program.

Over the past three decades, there has been exceptional trust in the process. Serving as the Forward Sioux Falls governing body, the Joint Venture Management Committee (JVMC) oversees both programmatic and fiduciary elements.

Forward Sioux Falls is midway through our five-year program. We are well on our way to meeting our five-year goals, which include:

  • 4,500 new, direct jobs at above median wage added
  • $500 million in new capital investments
  • $250 million in new property tax revenues
  • Over 300 acres of land sold and developed
  • 300 existing companies assisted

The success of Forward Sioux Falls is made possible by the commitment from our investors who understand the program’s positive, collective impact and also how putting competitive differences aside results in a community-wide return on investment.