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America's next boom town? Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO AM) – In a four-part series launched July 2nd, the National Journal asked if Sioux Falls was “America’s Next Boom Town,” citing thriving industry, consistently low unemployment—the current rate is 3.3 percent—and “few of the woes that plague larger urban areas” as key indicators.   Based on a flurry of third-party recognition for Sioux Falls in recent months, the answer appears to be “yes.

” It began withPOLICOM’s annual analysis of the nation’s strongest metro economies, which puts an emphasis on longer-term trends. The independent research firm ranked Sioux Falls ninth in the U.S. for the second consecutive year. Then came the National Journal’s series profiling the strong banking, healthcare and agricultural industries.

That same week, CNBC ranked South Dakota the No. 1 State for Business (Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state and a significant contributor to the South Dakota economy). Most recently, two life sciences trade publications have touted the area’s emerging biomedical hub, with Chemical & Engineering News labeling it the “Dakota Dream.”   “It has been an incredible run of third-party validation for our community at the national level,” says Slater Barr, President of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “Culturally, we tend to go about our business quietly in South Dakota, but I’ll be honest, it feels good. The accolades add validation that our approach to economic development is working.”  

The Sioux Falls economy is supported by two private hospital systems— Avera Health and Sanford Health—engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars in research, from behavioral genetics and telemedicine to breast cancer and Type I diabetes. The work has attracted renowned scientists and researchers from around the world. That, in turn, has given rise to several biomedical startups, some of which operate out of the South Dakota Technology Business Center.  

The financial services industry is another surprise to outsiders. South Dakota is home to more bank assets, $2.5 trillion, than any other state in the U.S., with most of that housed in Sioux Falls. Large operations of Citibank, Wells Fargo, Capital One, First Premier, TCF Bank, and Great Western Bank employ more than 14,000 people from the community.   Author and demographer Joel Kotkin noted the region’s ascent in a late 2012 study titled, “Rise of the Great Plains.” According to Kotkin, the Great Plains—including stand-out cities like Sioux Falls—have collectively outpaced the rest of the U.S. in population, GDP and job growth, and net in-migration. It has helped that many of these cities have improved their “quality of life” amenities to appeal to a wide audience.

In Sioux Falls, more than $155 million in recreational developments, including the $115 million Denny Sanford PREMIER Center and $19 million Sanford Pentagon, are currently under construction. Also reshaping the city’s downtown is the Sioux River Greenway Project, an $8 million revamp of the riverfront from heavy industrial usage to bicycle paths, pedestrian bridges, and an amphitheater.

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