SD: De Smet draws in industrial park tenants

Monday, January 07, 2013

By: LORETTA SORENSEN, Prairie Business Magazine

A progressive mindset and can-do attitude has brought the 1,100-resident rural community of De Smet, S.D., to the forefront in terms of economic development. The community, birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, recently welcomed two new manufacturing businesses, American Engineered Products Inc. and Sheyenne Dakota Inc. Through SDI alone De Smet workers have approximately 30 new job opportunities. Based on 2010 population comparisons, De Smet’s job growth is equivalent to 4,329 new jobs in nearby Sioux Falls.

Rita Anderson, De Smet director of economic development, attributes the community’s success to the progressive attitude, a longtime hallmark of this east-central South Dakota community where Anderson grew up.

“De Smet’s city leaders began building industry here as early as 1966,” Anderson says. “It’s fun to see people tour our industrial park for the first time. Most don’t realize how many companies are here. Lyle Signs, CMI Architectural Products, UltiMed, Legend Seeds and DeSco Architectural all have long traditions of operating in De Smet. We’re also proud that De Smet is home to Farm Mutual Insurance Company.”

Among De Smet’s assets is a strong infrastructure supporting industrial growth and a thriving industrial park.

“Three years ago we started working to fill a 10,000-square-foot spec building shell in the industrial park,” Anderson says. “We attended a network of trade shows across the U.S. We targeted medical device companies and sports companies. We also worked with the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development to identify opportunities. That office played a huge role in helping us achieve our goals.”

Once they identified potential new businesses, Anderson and city leaders as well as other De Smet businesses cooperated to make moving to their community as convenient and trouble-free as possible.

“We contacted businesses that seemed like a good fit and worked to identify resources they needed,” Anderson says. “We focused on needs in the spec building and financial assistance. We did all we could to put them in touch with local resources and worked with them to resolve problems that arose during the process.”

SDI, a wire and cable harness manufacturer headquartered in West Fargo, needed a labor pool to accommodate expansion. The North Dakota oil boom made it difficult for the company to find that resource.

“We worked through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in South Dakota and let them know what our needs were,” SDI CEO Dave Ingalsbe says. “We had about 19 South Dakota communities respond to our inquiry about adequate labor. In De Smet we found the type of labor pool we were looking for and a building that fit our needs very well. Everyone in the community seemed welcoming and helpful. We highly compliment the GOED office and De Smet community. They have all been very good to work with.”

AEP’s Audrey Saylor, company co-owner with Mike Wiese, says they believed their slot bases for casinos and video lottery and flagpole business would thrive in a smaller community.

“We needed to operate in a cost-effective atmosphere,” Saylor says. “We like the lower key lifestyle here. De Smet is more rural, but also a thriving, forward-looking community. Assistance we’ve had in meeting resource needs has been phenomenal. It’s remarkable to see a community this size embrace industrial development. I’m certain that played a key role in growth here.”

Anderson and her team have already plunged into a new development project. Promoting De Smet’s industrial growth will be an ongoing process. “This has all been accomplished through great team effort,” Anderson says. “That’s a long-time spirit of this community. They capitalize on what’s here and build on it.” PB

Loretta Sorensen

Contributing writer

605-660-0378, sorensenlms@gmail.com

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