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Monday, December 21, 2009

I-29 Economic Corridor Study Sends $118K Down the Road; Next Time Hire Locally!

As the I-29 Economic Corridor study gets going, I can already predict one conclusion: South Dakota communities are far too eager to send their money right down I-29 and out of the state to pay for research they could do themselves. We're paying Rural Technology Strategies Inc. of North Carolina $117,500 to study our economic prospects. I'm sure the folks from RTS Inc. will buy a few sandwiches when they drive through to collect their data, but wouldn't we get more bang from the buck if we hired locally for projects like this?

Ah, but who's smart enough to crunch all those darned numbers?

How about our high school students?

The Miner County Cash Flow Study has been the most successful effort to support local buying in Miner County, SD to date. The study involved high school students surveying county residents about their spending habits and then sharing the results with the public in an effort to help community members understand their impact on the local economy [Mike Knutson, "What Do Your Local Businesses Think?" Reimagine Rural, 2009.12.18].

Knutson also points to a local economic survey in Ames, Iowa, that their Chamber is conducting with volunteers from the local young professionals group. Projects like these are a great way to kill two economic development birds with one stone, getting useful data and engaging young people. Help your students feel like stakeholders, and there's that much more chance they'll stick around to fuel the economic development you're after.


  1. This reminds me of the money that Madison wasted to find a slogan befitting our community a few years ago, for which they got nothing. When they went with local ideas, which they should have done in the first place, they got a winner! The grass isn't always greener across state lines!

  2. Cory,

    Your link provides another person who promotes these economic development through government projects:

    "Former Brookings Mayor Scott Munsterman heavily promoted the project, too, using his connections with other mayors in the region to jumpstart the project."

    So Cory, how does it feel to be on board with the GOP fascist movement? This is why I say there is very little difference between the two parties, both want to enrich their special interest through taxes an d big government. The $118K would provide more economic development if it was used to give tax cuts. That way we have economic development through the people instead of through the government. Makes much more sense.

  3. Cory,
    I appreciate your thoughts about engaging students in community development work. Under the right situations and leadership, I think young people can accomplish a great deal more than we typically give them credit. That said, I haven’t dug into the RFP issued the by the I29 Corridor Project, so I don’t know if this is the right situation for such a project.

    What struck me, however, is that a NC company won the bid. It suggests to me an opportunity exists for a bright entrepreneur to create their own economic development consulting business right here in South Dakota.

  4. Indeed, Mike, with lots of communities and now groups of communities in the I-29 project spending big dollars to study their economic situations, some sharp local fellas with some hustle and some spreadsheets could make a really good living studying South Dakota's rural economy and offering suggestions on how to make it even better!

  5. I was part of the Shape Sioux Falls committee, which was compiled by consultants out of Des Moines. As usual, the question came up on why we didn't use anyone local. Then of course the city officials came back with that they won the bid. Then after a disgruntled pause they said no one local answered the RFP. Which would lead to two thoughts. One, announcement of the RFP isn't getting out to those who need to know, or, that there is no company or organization in South Dakota answer the call.

    The good thing about this, is that the Shape Sioux Falls project included community input with the public survey, all committees formed afterward were all local people.

    The people that were on the committee that I was a part of would be an awesome consulting firm. We had developers, a city council person, a planning commission appointee, landscapers, architects, bankers, former city planners and regular joe schmoe residents, but I'm sure all are preoccupied and secure with their current jobs or businesses to start a new venture like that. Not to mention the conflict of interest argument would come up.

    So another project comes up where everyone says, someone should, but no one does. I think it would be a great thing to be a part of. I have researched other cities and put together reports to go against the Home Occupation (work from home)Ordinance and for the Whittier Assoc. I think it could be done, just the right people need to get together and make it happen.

  6. April, sounds like we have the makings of a think tank! Keep an eye out for that next RFP, and let's put in a bid! Between our blogs and our friends, we can muster enough brain power to do these studies!

  7. Steve Sibson12/23/2009 1:41 PM

    "Not to mention the conflict of interest argument would come up."

    Yes, these economic development through government schemes are ripe for corruption.

  8. Get paid to do this??? Count me in... Going up an down 1-29 talking with people about their ideas sounds like a missed opportunity. Been thinking about adding a travel section to my blog, find the little gems in all these small towns and create posts.

    I only see RFPs for Sioux Falls, as I signed up for them under "my Sioux Falls" for the flower shop. But even then I don't think I see all of them because I haven't seen one for flowers. All I see are RFPs for construction or to buy pipe or something, but yet I see flowers all over the place. But...then again, I only read whats visible on my e-mail and don't click into them as my flower shop is now done. So that is why I think that the RFPs aren't getting to the people that need to know. I have no idea about other towns or ones from the state.

    I've been saying I've got to get to the grocery store for Christmas shopping before the blizzard comes. I think the dome is in place. We've hardly had anything new. Is anyone else in the middle of a blizzard?


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