SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The city of Sioux Falls made history on Nov. 22 when it cracked the $1-billion mark in building permit valuations.

A $1.7 million project from the Minnehaha County government put the city over an historic edge it had been flirting with for the past several weeks.

“To go over one billion is quite an achievement,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said during a Nov. 22 news conference.

The city joins other growing cities, some almost four times as large as Sioux Falls.

Two years ago, Omaha passed the $1-billion mark and did it again last year, said Jeff Eckhoff, the director of planning and development services for Sioux Falls.

The city of Boise, Idaho, reached $1-billion in 2019 and again during the first 10 months of the 2021 calendar year, according to data posted on the city’s website.

The population of Omaha is listed at 486,051. Boise’s population is listed as 229,993 for 2021. The city of Sioux Falls lists the city’s population at 195,850 for 2020.

The city of Des Moines tracks the value of building permits for a fiscal year.

The permit values topped $700,000,000 in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. It has about $243,000,000 in value for the first 10 months of 2020-2021.

How did the city get here?

The city has had sustained growth illustrated in building permit values since 2010. But the growth in value has almost exploded since 2016 when $701,851 in value was recorded.

It jumped to nearly $800,000 in 2019 and nearly $1 million at $919,602 in 2020.

Eckhoff said about 55% of this year’s growth is in commercial projects, 16% is in medical construction, 14% is in governmental growth and 12% is in housing.

Inflation has contributed to some of the growth in valuation over the past 10 years, Eckhoff said. But the bulk of the valuation growth comes from increases in permits and larger projects such as Amazon.

“It’s sheer numbers in the variety and sizes of our permits,” Eckhoff said.

The growth happens because the city is prepared for it with policies that encourage business and development and with infrastructure in place to handle growth, TenHaken said.

The growth is manageable because of city planning that can be traced years prior to 2021, TenHaken said.

“We can manage the growth. This is not growth for growth’s sake,” TenHaken said.

Growth has some hiccups

Eckhoff’s department has 60 full-time employees handling the permit process.

“…we are pretty lean in Sioux Falls,” TenHaken said.

The staff has managed the workload but there have been some hitches, he and Eckhoff said.

Right now, there may be about 60 plans that are waiting for attention, which is about two to three times as a more typical past year, Eckhoff said.

The city has had the ability for the public to apply for permits online but last year, it added the option to submit plans online for review.

The department will be adding another employee soon.

Growth surrounds some cities

As cities such as Sioux Falls grow and experience increases in building permits and values, so are some of the smaller towns around it.

Harrisburg is one example.

The U.S. Census Bureau listed the Harrisburg population at 6,732 for 2020. The population was 4,089 in 2010.

Harrisburg has a total building permit valuation of $70,659,335, through October of 2021, according to the city. That compares to $46,235,263 in 2020, and $35,409,165 in 2019. Permits nearly doubled from the 269 in 2019 to 449 as of October this year.

While the population of the city of Des Moines grew from about 200,000 to 214,000 in 2020, it is next to the one of the fastest growing counties in the nation: Dallas County, which grew by 50% from 2010 to 2020.

A portion of West Des Moines is in Dallas County. The city recorded $95,784,105.72 in construction permit value in October, according to the city.

Boise is also in a rapid growing metro area called the Treasure Valley with an estimated 2020 population of 761,680. Meridian, a neighboring city, had $76,051,625 in building permit value through October of this year, according to the city.