If the credit industry goes further south, perhaps Sioux Falls can find a roadmap in a couple other Marketplace stories on Iceland. Much like their fellow Viking descendants in Sioux Falls, the sweater-wearing Icelanders staked their economy on the financial industry and were making out like bandits. But now their three largest banks have collapsed, taking the national economy with them. In response, Icelanders are going back to their simpler, self-sufficient roots:
TEITUR THORKELLSON: Like Icelanders were all crazy about flat screens one year ago. They're now all crazy about going fishing , making a living, survival.
Teitur Thorkellson runs an energy consultancy called FTO. His firm's income has been cut in half. Everywhere, he says, there are signs of a new austerity.
THORKELLSON: If you travel the country now -- six months after the crash -- you will stop at a gas station, and the girl who's attending the gas station, she will be knitting socks. People are not spending. They're not eating as much out. So we're adjusting pretty fast [Stephen Beard, "Iceland in the Cold After Collapse," Marketplace, 2009.03.26].
Fishing and knitting—there's a plan South Dakotans can relate to! Clean up the Big Sioux, stock some perch and walleye, maybe offer a yarn subsidy, and folks laid off from Citibank could make a living!
Perhaps Sioux Falls and South Dakota could also compete with another Icelandic plan for economic recovery: data farming! Marketplace reports this morning that Iceland is hoping to establish a big international server farm. The big perk to doing it in Iceland: less cost for air-conditioning.
If temperature is the competitive advantage, South Dakota can offer Icelandic temps (or colder!) for at least a few months a year. Dig a nice deep hole (or just create some space out in the Homestake Lab) and you get even better climate control, plus a nice EMP/al-Qaeda proof bunker for everyone's data. Plus, for big U.S. companies, data retrieval from South Dakota will be several milliseconds faster than from Icelandic servers.
Fishing, knitting, and server farms: opportunity awaits, South Dakota!