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Growing South Dakota Outside Of Sioux Falls

May 2, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Growing South Dakota Outside Of Sioux Falls

From new developments to more people, Sioux Falls has been growing. But the city isn't alone.

Many communities big and small throughout the state have been working to grow South Dakota. Of course, each city has its own story of success and challenges.

Not even in city limits of the small town nearby, Horton near Britton couldn't promise big-city perks when recruiting engineer Randy Archer.

"I thought I knew what it was all about; I was in for a culture shock,” Archer said. “I'm still adjusting to it."

He loves his job, but Archer moved to Britton from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and he lived in the Twin Cities before that. The size and location of Britton was something unique.

"The isolation of everything but you know you compensate with that by being more into your neighbors, your friends and the result has been our social life is much richer here than it ever has been before," Archer said.

Archer is just one person drawn to rural South Dakota in recent years for work.  Britton is just one small town recruiting.

"I think just getting the word out that rural areas are good communities,” Melissa Fose, executive director of Webster Area Development Corporation said. “Some people assume that a big city will offer more but I think that they offer different things."

Fose says the corporation's number one goal is helping create more jobs in Day County through new or expanding business.

With current openings in Day and neighboring counties, economic development is happening. Still, there are challenges that come with work to expand rural parts of the state. Officials say they're working to address those.

Housing, Fose says, can be one challenge.

"We're looking at doing a housing needs study and try and find out the best way to address that issue and move forward and I think the same for other communities," Fose said.

Aberdeen is a larger northeast community that was low on housing and had developers step up to fill the need. Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen says the city has seen more than 1,000 housing units added in the past few years.

That's just one factor that can help draw people to town to fill jobs. One person told Levsen he needed to make sure there was a good workout facility before committing to a move.

"So you never know and you have to try to get everything that you can to the point that it's attractive," Levsen said.

Aberdeen's retail sales growth has been very strong, Levsen says, which is one statistic he can use to pitch the city's success.

But he'll also admit some people will turn down jobs in the area because there isn't as large a spectrum of careers. So a spouse with a specific career might not find desired employment.

Back in Marshall County, commissioner Ralph Skare says that can be an even bigger challenge in smaller towns.

"So you aren't always just looking for one job. Sometimes you're looking for that second job and that becomes difficult," Skare said.

Still, he says there are people looking to come or return to rural America. He joins others trying to recruit them.

"We have a lot to offer young couples, middle aged, retirees," Skare said.

Archer can tell you firsthand about some of those small-town challenges. Still, nearly eight months into his Britton life, he's buying a house rather than planning a move.

"My wife and I are definitely happy to be here and especially with the friends that we made," Archer said.

Economic development officials from different communities in the northeast meet regularly to brainstorm ideas for the whole region. Rather than competing, they're trying to help each other grow, saying it's beneficial for everyone.

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