RURAL IS TRENDING | Rural towns attractive to workers, businesses
– By #Brenda Wade Schmidt
Several smaller South Dakota towns are proving that economic development isn’t simply a tally of the number of jobs created.
For those hoping to bring new businesses to town or help existing businesses expand, it takes a toolbox that includes available workers, desirable housing, investment dollars, quality of life amenities and leadership. It’s thinking beyond the job count and smokestacks and offering what people are looking for when it comes to lifestyle, say economic development directors from numerous towns with fewer than 5,000 people.
“Traditional economic development doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s a lot about community development and economic development,” said Paula Jensen, vice president of program development with Dakota Resources. “It’s about developing the brand of a thriving rural.”
Dakota Resources is a nonprofit that helps member communities find capital to use for economic development goals. The 30-plus communities in South Dakota who belong also are able to access training, participate in a learning network so they are less isolated and grow their community’s capacity for development.