Career Connections students at Marmen Energy
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SFDF shares updates on workforce programs

  • February 15, 2022

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

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

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

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