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.