SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The small town of Tripp with a population of about 580 hadn’t had a new home built in decades until the local economic development corporation built one.

Caleb Finck, the president of the Tripp Economic Development Corporation, said the organization had three lots on existing streets in the town. It built a house on one, sold one lot next door to a buyer and sold the third lot to a private developer. There is a need for housing in the town and the organization wants to help fill it.

The economic development corporation is now working on other projects including “exploring aging (housing) infrastructure that needs rehabilitation,” Finck said. “It’s not necessarily about building all new houses.”

About 90 miles north of Tripp in Huron, Jordan Stricherz is investing in a downtown property with office space on the main level and eight apartments on the second floor.

“It checks a lot of boxes in the community,” Stricherz said of his project.

Huron has a need for rental housing and it’s working to make improvements in its downtown.

“This project has a lot of community interest,” Stricherz said. As of May 18, he has several of the office spaces spoken for. The apartments are not as far a long in construction but there is interest.

The main floor of a building being renovated by Jordan Stricherz in Huron. This floor will contain offices while the second story is being renovated for apartments. Photo courtesy of Jordan Stricherz

“It is filling up and I haven’t tried super hard (to advertise the building),” Stricherz said.

The projects in Tripp and Huron are examples of how rural communities around the state are trying to fill a need for housing. Economic development representatives said housing is a critical piece for any town or city’s future growth and sustainability.

Dakota Resources brought representatives from financing, development and various communities to discuss ideas to meet the housing need in the state in a summit this past week in Oacoma. Dakota Resources provides financing for development projects including housing. It connects capital with capacity to help rural communities grow, according to its website.

What happens when people share ideas?

The event “brings community leaders together,” said Mike Knutson, the learning network orchestrator and community coach for Dakota Resources. “We can learn from each other to help solve our own problems and to be more efficient and effective,” Knutson said.

Attendees can also learn about financing options available through Dakota Resources, South Dakota Housing Authority and others.

A house built by the economic development organization in Tripp. Photo courtesy of Caleb Finck.

It was at a summit three years ago “that opened my eyes,” Finck said of work the economic development group in Tripp could be doing.

Developing housing is economic development, said Ted Haeder, the president of the Greater Huron Development Corporation.

Businesses and industry around the state need employees but if there is no housing available, it’s difficult to find employees.

Support from outside and inside a community

Knutson said the best housing economic development projects have support from the community.

“Community leaders need to recognize they are part of the solution,” Knutson said.

The community support for housing projects is happening around the state, Knutson said, but, “We need more.”

Haeder will frequently refer to partners when he speaks of housing development projects in the Huron area.

The interior of the house built by the economic development organization in Tripp. Photo courtesy of Caleb Finck.

Those partners include the city, developers and financial partners that are both local and non-profits such as state agencies and others.

In Tripp, the support included local contractors, electricians and plumbers who are willing to work the economic development corporation, Finck said.

Stricherz owned rental houses before he started the larger downtown office and apartment project. That helped prepare him for the larger project.

He always recommends people looking to invest in rental property or those interested in a larger project find a mentor.

Economic development corporations can help as well individuals who have been involved with housing projects, Stricherz said.

Who needs the housing?

Haeder said often when there is discussion about workforce housing needs, people may think of manufacturing or similar jobs. Cities such as Huron also need housing for professionals such as doctors or lawyers, he said.

The Huron economic group is also working on a senior living complex that includes general living units as well as assisted living and memory care units. There is a need for senior living housing in Huron, Haeder said.

Retirees are also looking to return or stay in Tripp, Finck said. That’s also true for younger adults with families. Some may have family ties to the area while others are just looking to leave a larger city, Finck said.