2010 Initiative to help South Dakota’s economy

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

South Dakota’s economy is slowly but surely improving thanks to the 2010 Initiative program.

Richard Benda, secretary for South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development, said, “Although South Dakota is not at its very best, we are doing seriously better in South Dakota than other states are doing. California and other large states are in really big trouble.”

Benda said we are in a deep recession and the economy will get worse if something is not done. The recession risk is all the way up to 25 percent for the country.

Population is another problem in South Dakota, said Benda. It is estimated that in 2025 South Dakota is going to end up with 7,000 fewer people in the 0-19 age category. In the 20-64 age category, there will be another 7,000 people lost. About 90,000 people will go into the over 65 category. One of the major plans of 2010 Initiative is to provide more jobs for college graduates to keep them in the state, Benda said.

The 2010 Initiative plan is broken down into four main goals. The first is to double visitor spending from $600 million to $1.2 billion by 2010. Wanda Goodman of the South Dakota Office of Tourism said that goal one focuses on changing the way the state markets to audiences in South Dakota.

Goodman said there are four groups of people who are being targeted. The first group looks for recreation that is affordable. The second is upscale vacation families who spend more money on vacation shopping, dining and touring. The third is the “prime of their lives group,” or retired people, who look to travel more and enjoy entertainment such as gambling. The fourth is an outdoor activity group of people who travel to South Dakota for the specific goal to hunt, fish or participate in other outdoor activities. Goal one aims to make it as easy as possible for people to plan trips to South Dakota and purchase vacation packages.

The Great Neighbor Getaway program is also in the works. The Great Neighbor Getaways are South Dakota vacation deals designed specifically for Minnesotans.

Goal two is to increase Gross State Production by $10 million by 2010, said Kim Olson, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. One of the major plans is to promote new businesses coming into South Dakota as well as expansion of existing businesses, Olson said.

Goal two also promotes agriculture and natural resource development such as natural energy, including ethanol, biodiesel fuel and wind energy, as well as firearms and information technology.

Goal three is to become a recognized leader in research and technology development by 2010. Mel Ustad, director of commercialization, said there are three things the state needs to make this happen. These include growing research activities to generate discoveries and innovations to drive the economy, encouraging entrepreneurs to build new businesses and partnering with industries to help build the skilled workforce that the economy needs.

The Homestake Research mine, the Federal EPSCoR program and the Giant Vision Awards are examples of these types of activities.

The Homestake Mine is a former underground gold mine near Lead, S.D., that is now being used for research. The EPSCoR program’s goal is to advance science and engineering capabilities for discovery, innovation and overall knowledge-based prosperity. The Giant Vision Business Plan Competition is a competition that allows students to share their ideas and present business plans. First place is awarded $3,500, second is awarded $2,500 and third place is awarded $1,000, and the other five qualifiers receive $500 each.

Goal four of the 2010 Initiative plan aims to develop the states’s quality of life. Ustad said the major goal is to promote better jobs, post-secondary education and quality of life for young adults to try to keep people in South Dakota.

#1.882159:3116971700.jpg:Gov.Econ.RGB.BVW.jpg:Richard Benda, secretary for South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development, speaks to SA senators about the future of the 2010 Initiative – a program based around tourism, production and college graduation retention.: