SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Women from all over western KELOLAND gathered in Deadwood this week for the 11th annual Women’s Business Summit.

“It was almost like a big reunion, our last big event was in Deadwood in October of 2019,” SD CEO West Women’s Business Center director Michelle Kane said. 

For the first time since the pandemic, The Women’s Business Summit was held in person. The conference is hosted by the SD CEO West Women’s Business Center, a program funded by the Small Business Administration. 

“There were 350 women here Tuesday,” Kane said. “They come from all over and there’s such a wide range of women who attend: university students, early career women and seasoned executives.”

That face-to-face connection is one of the key components of the summit designed to create community among area women in business.

“Sometimes we need to hear women from the podium speak so that other people in the audience can see themselves in that. So it’s like wow, that’s possible for me too.”

It’s the kind of inspiration the SD CEO West Women’s Business Center has encouraged for the past 11 years, highlighting entrepreneurs from the west side of the state at their annual summit.

“There are so many amazing women in South Dakota doing amazing things. But they’ve got their head down, they’re running their business, they’re focused. Our goal is to find them and bring them to the stage,” Kane said.

“We’re really looking forward to pulling from the local talent, the local women business owners at this conference and help build community,” SD CEO East Women’s Business Center Director Sadie Swier said.

Now women business leaders in Eastern KELOLAND will also be able to share their stories and connect with other women at a new conference in Sioux Falls on September 27th.

“The east Women’s Business Center just turned a year old,” Swier said. “And now we’re hosting our inaugural Women’s Visionary Summit, which will be our first conference in Sioux Falls.”

Giving women all over South Dakota a chance to grow.

“The goal is really for personal and professional development,” Kane said. “West river, east river, there’s kind of this competition, but we are here to serve all women.”

“Making those connections and propelling that economic development across the state,” Swier said. 

Registration for the first SD CEO East women’s conference is open through September 20th. The Women’s Visionary Summit will be held at the Washington Pavilion from 8am to 1pm on Tuesday September 27th.