Economist: Sioux Falls should think broader in recruiting workers

By Jodi Schwan

Sioux Falls needs to look beyond surrounding communities to attract enough workers to support its growth, Creighton University economist Ernie Goss told a group of leaders Thursday.

Goss, who surveys rural and urban business leaders monthly and spoke as part of the inaugural Economic Trends Summit, said Sioux Falls consistently outperforms the region economically.

“The city is going through, I won’t say a renaissance, but it’s certainly growing. This is an amazing time,” he said.

But the city appears to be tapping out the population within a 100-mile radius as it looks to fill a need for workers in multiple sectors, Goss said.

“We must, must, must extend our recruitment geography, and that’s a challenge for you I would argue,” he said.

Goss suggested taking recruitment efforts to the coasts and organizing events in major cities for native South Dakotans.

“Go to where they are. Go to New York City or California. There are former South Dakotans who would come back, people who have entrepreneurial instincts but who can’t make it work in California.”

The city’s strong health care industry will be an advantage as the population ages, he added, as will its low tax burdens and more livable alternative for people worn out on the coasts.

Sioux Falls is driving growth for the state, his data shows.

If the city had grown at the same rate as the state in the past 20 years, there would be 25,000 fewer jobs here, he reported.

South Dakota, though, “has been the hot performer” in his surveys of up to 10 regional states.

“I think it can continue to grow because you have so much opportunity on the exports side,” he said. “Ag is good long-term, and you could not live in a better place in the nation with ag.”

While the agriculture market has been hit in recent years, Goss sees potential for increasing exports that would bode well for South Dakota.

“The long-term outlook is very positive, but we have to live in the short run,” he said. “The value of the dollar has increased and has pushed ag prices down. Keep an eye on the value of the dollar. Right now, it’s going up. So 2017 is the fourth year in a row we’ve had declining farm income, an under-reported story. Most of the nation doesn’t know.”

Economist: Sioux Falls should think broader in recruiting workers

Sioux Falls needs to look beyond surrounding communities to attract enough workers to support its growth, Creighton University economist Ernie Goss told a group of leaders Thursday.

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