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Best Place To Live In America: 20 Years Later

September 20, 2012, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Best Place To Live In America: 20 Years Later

A magazine article published two decades ago cast Sioux Falls in the national limelight that still carries a bit of an afterglow today.

In September 1992, Money Magazine named Sioux Falls the nation's best place to live.
Back in the days when magazines, and not the Internet, could create a national buzz, Sioux Falls was front-page news as Money's best place to live in America.

"So it was really nice for a national publication to say what we already knew and that was, 'Hey, this is a great place to live,'" Augustana College President Rob Oliver said.

Money Magazine interviewed then-Norwest Bank president Rob Oliver for the article. Oliver, who's now president of Augustana College, still hears about it two decades later.

"Sometimes when I'm travelling, somebody will say, 'Well, weren't you guys in Money Magazine?' Or, 'Weren't you in some magazine some time ago, great place to live?' Yep. So every now and then, you hear it," Oliver said.

Money highlighted Sioux Falls' low unemployment, low crime and high quality of life.  The number-one ranking put Sioux Falls on corporate America's radar and that helped set into motion a long-range development plan by the city to handle the influx of new families and workers.

"We didn't want to rest on our laurels and we knew there were going to be some major challenges ahead, so we kind of laid-out a road map with the community of what should be the future priorities," current City Planner Mike Cooper said.

But there was a downside to the Money Magazine article.  Cooper says it raised unrealistic expectations among some people who beat a hasty path to Sioux Falls thinking they could land jobs here right out of the gate.

"And for a time, I remember that really put a burden on some of the social service agencies of people just coming here unexpected or announced," Cooper said.

This year, Sioux Falls couldn't even crack Money's top 100 best places to live. But money couldn't buy the kind of publicity Sioux Falls received 20 years ago.
"It didn't hurt us in any way.  How much did it help?  Who knows," Oliver said.

The 1992 article even credited Minerva's downtown restaurant for offering customers chicken breast with pasta for only $5.95.  Minerva's no longer offers that on its menu, but you can order Cajun chicken and linguine for $10.

August 19: Sioux Falls Tops Magazine List
August 26: Money Magazine On Store Shelves

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