Where Exactly is Miller?

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Last week, I attended a 3-day conference for the 2023 Leadership South Dakota class. I am so very honored to have the opportunity to learn and grow with 43 amazing leaders from around our state. There are only a few of us representing rural South Dakota. The other majority of participants are from Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, Watertown, and other larger communities from around our state.

At first, I was very intimated by this group of leaders from across the state. We have Executives for large advertising companies, Captain of the Rapid City Police Department, lawyers for large law firms, Executives from large banks, Executive Directors for large non-profits, University Leaders, and lots of other super, successful leaders.  So here I am, Executive Director for On Hand Development Corporation representing Hand County in a room of folks that I have never, ever heard of On Hand. The fact that they didn’t know what On Hand is didn’t surprise. What did surprise me is how so many from Sioux Falls don’t even know where Miller is on the map or worse yet, haven’t even heard of Miller.

I heard at least 3 times, “Where exactly is Miller?” Or, “I have never heard of Miller, tell me more about it.” I was so taken back. Here we have leaders from our state that don’t where Miller is. How could that be? Don’t they leave Sioux Falls?

My cohorts really got me thinking about how important is for all of us as a rural community to leave the sight of the water tower and tell people our story. I can’t do this alone. It is vital that our leaders in our state know where Miller/Hand County is because we need to be connected to the rest of our state to learn about all of the opportunities out there. Grant opportunities, business opportunities, financing opportunities, educational opportunities, advertising/marketing opportunities, leadership opportunities, and what works and doesn’t work in other communities.

We need to tell them our story over and over again so they know that South Dakota is so much more than Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Those cities are vital for our state but so is rural South Dakota. They need to hear about farming, ranching, tourism, business, quality of life, safety, education, and all of the wonderful other reasons we call rural home.

I know that when my 42 cohorts left from Pierre last week, they will remember that Miller is conveniently located on Highway 14 &45. They won’t remember all of the wonderful things that I talked about, but they will remember that I represent such a wonderful, rural community. I can’t wait to meet up with this group of leaders in October and continue to tell them our story and why we matter to South Dakota. 

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