There’s No Place Like Home
There’s No Place Like Home for Kimball’s Economic Development Director
By: Carey Grosdidier
Walk into Anita Holan’s Economic Development office in Kimball and you’ll find it decorated with items from the Wizard of Oz.
No, she’s not a die-hard Oz fan. She was simply inspired to make a difference in Kimball after hearing John Beranek, a Community Coach at Dakota Resources, give a Wizard of Oz analogy at the RuralX Summit last summer.
“He came out and talked about having the courage, the heart and the brains to make a difference in a rural community,” remembers Anita, who serves as Kimball’s Economic Development Director. “It really hit me. Before I came to RuralX, I wished we had an Economic Development Board to help me make decisions. I went home and pushed for it. I used the Wizard of Oz analogy and told the City Council I had the courage and the heart, but I needed a few more brains—of course they all laughed. What I meant was I needed more people to help me think through these issues, and they understood.”
There are now seven community members serving on the new Economic Development Board. Though the group is in its initial stages, Anita says she feels “like a big weight has been taken off my shoulders.”
“I don’t feel so alone anymore,” she says. “I feel like I have people who support my vision for growth in Kimball. There are so many opportunities here, but I need people behind me in order to get things done.”
Along with forming a new board, Anita was also motivated to launch a Community Development Foundation in Kimball after meeting Buddy Seiner from the South Dakota Community Foundation at RuralX.
“I met Buddy at a round table discussion. I contacted him afterward and he came to Kimball to help us start a Foundation. We already signed the papers and everything,” she says.
Anita grew up in Kimball and says her passion for the community is strong. This is one reason why she quit another job after 16 years to take the position as Kimball’s Economic Development Director.
“The mayor hired me in August 2015,” she explains. “Having access to an event like RuralX was great. It was the first time I’ve ever gone to an economic development meeting and actually brought stuff home we could use. I wish they would do it twice a year!”
Anita says most economic development conventions are geared towards bigger cities, and she wonders how a place like Kimball could make any of it work.
“RuralX was exactly what I needed in our small community,” she says “The wheels were already turning, I just needed something to help put them in motion.”