Recently, the On Hand Development board and staff gathered to make the plan for next year and the years to come. Our entire community has so very much to be proud of from 2022. 2023 is looking bright with new business owners, business expansions, big changes, and new faces in our community.
What a great Christmas on the Prairie event! I had so many people come up to me and thank me for a wonderful night of shopping and all of the fun events. I had to tell them that I didn’t organize a thing for the event and they needed to thank the Miller Civic and Commerce, all of the businesses who join the Miller C&C and all of the volunteers who made it possible. My job was helping them put the pieces together and get the word out. I want to take my space in this article to thank the Miller Civic and Commerce and urge anyone or any business who isn’t a member to join!
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to the Miller Elementary students about shopping local. I decided not to do a PowerPoint presentation or a long drawn out speech. I am better when I can throw a few jokes in and make it fun so I had a role-playing activity that not only involved a few of my friends who are affected by shopping local, but also the students.
Have you heard of “Small Business Saturday”? It is an effort all across the United States to help people find the value in shopping local. This day is the counter offer to “Black Friday” when big box stores offer incredible deals the day after Thanksgiving. The “Small Business Saturday” movement honors local business owners and encourages local shopping
Last week, I was visiting with a business owner about hiring a new full-time employee and taking advantage of our employee recruitment program. This business is matching $1000 for recruitment funds to help attract and retain a new employee to our area. This new employee will get $2000 for working in Hand County for a year. This whole conversation really got me thinking that I need to remind businesses about the programs that we offer at On Hand for any business in Hand County.
I had a call last week with a mentor and we got to talking about the divide not only in our country but in our small rural communities. She said something to me that really got my wheels turning, “Do you think all of the negative ads on tv and political drama have made people more negative and do you think if we changed the narrative, that might help our entire community?” YES YES YES!!!
On Hand Development Corporation is gearing up for our upcoming Strategic Planning Session and we are looking for ideas to make our community a better place to live, work and play. We start the night off with what I like to call the “Wall of Wonder!” The Wall of Wonder is a visual list of all of the wonderful things that came out of our community from the past year.
Rural workforce, multi-family and rehab housing have been a silent crisis for at least three decades. Part of the mission of On Hand Development Corporation (OHDC) is to make sure that Miller has affordable housing. Housing is a big part of economic development. Our communities not only need jobs for young families but also need adequate and affordable housing to attract them to our area.
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.
Last week, I tackled a task that took every effort of my patience. This task wasn’t business expansion, business retention, revolving loan fund, housing, or public speaking related. I successfully finished fixing On Hand Development email issues with Google. This may not sound like a big deal to many but for us it was a huge win. I am not techy…. not even a little. I waited on hold with google for over three hours, worked with techy people who didn’t speak my language, and lost several emails that I will never get back. The whole situation really got me thinking about patience and how effective leaders need to practice patience.
Last week, I attended my last session of fundraising school and graduated from the Indiana University Lilly Family of School of Philanthropy. I am now certified in fund raising management. I was honored with a scholarship from Dakota Resources for my tuition and I am so very thankful for their support in Hand County and On Hand Development Corporation. I was one of three Economic Development directors from around South Dakota representing rural communities. Representing Hand County and rural South Dakota is something I take great pride in and I jump at the opportunity to tell our story to people who have never heard of our community.
Since the fall of 2014, Hand County has enjoyed its Community Center. The theme surrounding the Center has been donations and volunteer work. It all began when the Miller School gave the land and the old elementary building complex to On Hand Development Corporation for $1 for the purpose of developing a Community Center. With that gift, the On Hand Board of Directors immediately went to work securing manpower and design teams to turn an old school into a beautiful, functional complex that benefits not only Hand County citizens but surrounding businesses and families.
Does anyone else feel like August flew by? Megan and I were talking and realized August is long gone. So, where did August go?
I think we feel this way because we had a crazy, busy month… Megan was busy working with brides on upcoming weddings and coaches on upcoming basketball schedules, Megan also is working on a new and exciting fundraiser for the Community Center (more on that later), I helped organize the Career Here Event, I worked with new business owners on ideas and resources to help them get started, we have a sale pending on Sommers Bar, our daily paperwork and bills, I attended 2 learning opportunities for my upcoming classes with Leadership South Dakota, started a new loan in our revolving loan fund, I submitted our grant application for the infrastructure for the potential new housing development, and I had 22 business visits in Hand County.
What is civic pride? Saying you are proud to live in Hand County? Attending a community event? Civic pride is defined as having pride in your community, but it’s so much more than just that. Civic pride brings a community together and makes us feel good about where we GET to live.
Do you remember that song? When I visit with any negative Nelly, I always sing that song in my head while I am listening to everything that is wrong in the world.
I was visiting with a concerned business owner the other day about how things are going in our community… or at least how he felt they were going at this point in his day. I listened to his concerns about our community and the businesses for sale. He went on and on about the bad and the ugly about everything he thought was going on but not mentioning anything good about Hand County.
A lot of people ask what my day-to-day duties all include. It’s a tough question because every single day looks so different than the day before. This week, I worked on a potential new housing development, a grant for infrastructure, a new business loan, business signage, website updates, several meetings with my board, and attended a meeting for one of my favorite events- the Career Here Event!
Not every week here at On Hand is rainbows and butterflies. This last week was not easy in any sense of the word. We dealt with our share of challenges this week just like we do lots of weeks. I visit with a cohort of others in the Economic Development world and we share our struggles and victories and this week, I shared our struggles and they brought me back up with everything I need to CELEBRATE! They also reminded me that this work is hard. Not only is it hard, but not everyone understands it and appreciates it.
I was visiting with someone last week and they asked me what On Hand is doing about ALL of the businesses currently for sale in our community. I took a second to count and all of the listed businesses for sale in Miller right now is at 4. I went to my reports back in May of 2019. When I started in May of 2019, the number of businesses listed for sale in Miller was 12. In the past 3 years, we have been committed to helping businesses find new owners for the future of our community. I have met with dozens of potential new business owners on ideas and plans.
Last week, I attended a conference about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and how it relates to Economic Development in rural communities. At this conference, I met with other Economic Development professionals as well as community leaders about the importance of making sure that everyone has a place in a community.
On the last day of the conference, we were challenged to tell our story and tie that story into DEI. You see… we all have a story.
As we are approaching our annual CRAZY days here in Miller, Buy Local or Bye-Bye Local is something we all need to remember and it shouldn’t be just for CRAZY days. As I am visiting with people around town, they don’t like to see local businesses close their doors or to see vacant buildings scattered throughout the community; however, it is rare that those community members consider that their own buying patterns may have attributed to those very losses.
What a great Independence Day Celebration we had in Hand County! I had so many people come up to me and thank me for a wonderful weekend and all of the fun events. I had to tell them that I didn’t organize a thing for the weekend celebration and they needed to thank the Miller Civic and Commerce, all of the businesses who join the Miller C&C and all of the volunteers who made it possible. My job was helping them put the pieces together and get the word out. I want to take my space in this article to thank the Miller Civic and Commerce and urge anyone or any business who isn’t a member to join!
I sat down with a business owner this week and he asked me to write about what resources we have for Hand County Businesses. Below is the “twitter” version of our services for any Hand County Businesses
Last week, 25 people sat down with South Dakota Public Broadcasting and heard all kinds of stories about Hand County folks and stories from our area. We heard from kids, adults, and seniors about why they love this community and what makes it so special. We advertised this event in The Miller Press and our Facebook page so if you are upset you didn’t attend, that’s on you.