Top 10 Community Economic Development Actions for South Dakota Rural Communities
By Paula Jensen, VP of Advancement Dakota Resources
Below is a list of action items that communities should add to their ‘to-do’ lists in order to lead you toward community sustainability, community involvement, and community growth:
- Promote your community every chance you get by updating your web page and social media channels with local news, highlights, causes, calls-to-action, history, events, and successes. In today’s web-based society, every community should be online and have up-to-date information. In many cases this is an easy and free process. Click here.
- Recognize the importance of the local library and identify it as a “third space | a social environment separate from home and the workplace”. The local library should be an information sharing facility that can help existing small businesses, entrepreneurs, and youth. If you library needs support or funding check out the SD State Library.
- Work with your board of directors and staff to bring more partners, both public and private, into your local economic development process.
- Educate your elected officials and your board that economic development is also about creating healthy sustainable communities, a task which takes time, and it is not just about creating immediate jobs, but instead creating a quality of life. Create an easy to read infographic or presentation that describes your vision of a healthy sustainable community.
- Participate in high school activities, such as a career day, to inform them that economic development is an important and valued profession in the community. The Grant County Development Corporation has created a great template for career day activities that could be replicated in your town. Email Bobbie Bohlen
- Identify talent already in your community and actively work to retain them to continue to live and work there. In order for rural regions to retain, attract, and grow talent there are several strategies. Read about those strategies in this report.
- Introduce entrepreneurship to high schools through ideation activities and business plan competitions, such as the BIG Idea Competition and other events.
- Encourage and support the creative arts and remind others through presentations and events that broad based participation in successful cultural activities is one of the primary drivers for people deciding to relocate their businesses or to come visit and spend money. Consider creating a local arts council with the support from the SD Arts Council.
- Improve the looks of your downtown with the simple things like flowers and benches and festivals and cultural celebrations. Most improvements are simple and inexpensive. A healthy downtown usually means a healthy community. The Webster community has worked with design|SD to improve their Main Street and other parts of the community.
- Produce a list of regional assets, resources, events, and hidden gems and promote them internally and externally. Train your residents to be the local tour guide for relatives and guests of the community. Every business, household and web page should have good information and be a concierge desk for people interested in your community. Our regional tourism offices offer great resources and opportunities to feature our communities and regional activities. Get to know your local tourism representative.