Southern Hills Economic Development hosts annual banquet

Photo by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald Star

Guest speaker Daniel Ainslie, Sturgis City Manager, spoke to the balance needed with economic development between residents and tourism.


By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – The Southern Hills Economic Development Corporation (SHEDCO) held their annual banquet Friday evening, Jan. 20, at the Red Rock River Resort in downtown Hot Springs with approximately 80 persons in attendance.

Multiple supporters were commended for their continued support such as, but not limited to, Black Hills Energy, Golden West, Fall River Health Care Services as well as Hot Springs City Council, Edgemont City Council and Fall River County Commission.

Heading into 2023, a few projects SHEDCO will be focusing on will be the repurposing of an older building on the State Home grounds into an apartment complex and possible office spaces, with the help of Mike Stanley of Dream Design.

SHEDCO is actively collaborating with Fall River Health Services, Western Dakota Tech and the State Veterans Home to exploring the possibility of a satellite nursing school in Hot Springs.

Hot Springs High School Superintendent Dennis Fischer updated the audience on the progress of the Career Technical Education (CTE) building. The new building will hold an Ag department (FFA), Business Education, Family Consumer Science, well as expanded auto, wood, welding shops and chemistry lab.

“We don’t want our education to stop at our doors,” said Fischer of the school’s passion to connect youth with careers within the community through internships or apprenticeship programs. Speaking to the businesses present he said, “We don’t know what dreams our children have, we want them to be able to step from our classroom to your business, so, if we don’t call you, please don’t hesitate to call us.” 

SHEDCO Executive Director Andrea Powers introduced new and emerging businesses in Hot Springs and thanked them for their diligence and commitment to the economic growth of the community. “There are a lot of great things happening,” she said, “it’s very positive.”

Guest speaker Daniel Ainslie, Sturgis City Manager since 2011, presented his successful approach to economic development in a town that serves both tourists and locals alike.

“As stewards of taxpayers’ money, we need to ask ourselves, are we addressing the needs of the residents?” said Ainslie of the seemingly delicate balance of the need for tourism dollars, but the need to support the residents of the community also.

“We tend to be conservative,” said Ainslie of smaller towns, “but you have to take some risks, not bet the farm, but take a step forward…. setting goals that are achievable.”

He admits that funding economic development in a town can be met with negativity, but for a town to be successful economically “a town must be able to fund economic development for the long term success of a community.”

Sturgis is best known throughout the United States and beyond for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an event that brings in millions each year in revenue for the state.

Yet, creating a Sturgis as a destination for more than the rally has had its challenges.

Over the years, Sturgis has tried multiple events, assessing the pros and cons after each event to see if they are viable to continue. 

With the expansion of events from Mustang rallies to off road rallies, mountain bike races to music festivals, the town has grown to become a destination for all walks of life. 

Ainslie did point out that often residents are weary of yet more traffic coming to their small town, so he stressed the importance of communication with the community explaining the benefits to the residents.

“With social media negativity, it’s even more important to communicate with the community,” he said, making sure residents have the facts.

He used an example of the opening of a new coffee shop. 

While some folks would quibble about yet another coffee shop, it has been proven that people who stop for coffee tend to meander in a walking friendly town and tend to spend money too. Yet he also points out that a town ought not to turn their noses at larger businesses that not only bring in tax dollars but employment for residents, such as they did with Indian Motorcycles of Sturgis.

With one of his final pieces of advice on positive economic development being, “don’t forget the residents.”

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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