SF Mayoral Candidates Share Thoughts On Retail And Job Climate


The next mayor of Sioux Falls will have to help the city navigate a retail climate which can be, at best, uncertain. 

As we’ve mentioned, Younkers is expected to close, and a business analyst says the Gap, Macy’s and JCPenney are also at risk of closing. Then there’s Ascena Retail Group, the parent company of Loft, Dress Barn, and Lane Bryant; a recent Bloomberg article says this company should go on your “retail death watch.”

With those stores on the line, we asked the two mayoral candidates for their input on the retail and job picture in Sioux Falls. Paul TenHaken and Jolene Loetscher both have experience as business owners, so KELOLAND News asked how their potential administration would meet the demands of the 2018 economy head-on.

“The retail, job landscape is changing with what’s happening with the online landscape, so the way people are consuming and buying products is shifting,” TenHaken said.

“We know that obviously online sales are changing what the city looks like and our employment needs and inabilities,” Loetscher said.

Both candidates have tomorrow’s economy in mind.

“What we need to be looking at is, what sort of jobs are we planning for for the next five and 10 years, versus industries that are maybe on their way out, it’s not to say that retail is on its way out, but in some ways, large retail, large retail shopping is shifting to online,” TenHaken said.

“When we look at what that landscape looks like for the next four years or ten or twenty, one of the things we’ve really got to address is how do we recruit in companies that are going to help fill in those gaps that innovation and technology and other things are going to take away,” Loetscher said.

Each candidate brings up biotechnology.

“We look for ways that we can bring in jobs and industries that are going to be good-paying jobs, and that’s why I’ve always said biotechnology is a great area for us to recruit in, it’s an area I know personally, having grown a business in that, cybersecurity offers us opportunities, and with those come other jobs to support those companies, too,” Loetscher said.

“White-collar jobs, and things like biotechnology and health care and finance and some of these, even though we sometimes have layoff in those, those are really important to look at as well. So, continuing to look at workforce development beyond the retail sector is going to be important,” TenHaken said. 

We’re preparing for our KELOLAND News Special next Tuesday night, a mayoral debate when the candidates will answer your questions. We’re watching your questions come in, and we’re looking for more. 

The runoff election will be Tuesday, May 1.

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