Rounds talks economy at Newspaper Day


Elizabeth “Sam” Grosz, Cns

PIERRE (CNS) — Economic development appears to be a priority with South Dakota’s new governor.

In a news conference with the state’s weekly and daily newspapers, Gov. Mike Rounds said people talk about different kinds of economic development, but whether it is development of tourism or agriculture, it is economic development.

“I found when it came to economic development, we were breaking up the pie” by using money in several separate ways, Rounds said.

Rounds plans to combine the money from tourism, economic development, cultural affairs and the tribal office to make that pie whole.

“Now I’m talking about all areas that need promotion,” he said.

Rounds invited people with ideas who have developed them into a plan to come to him for help. It will be his challenge to find the funding.

Rounds said there are several communities that are interested in incubator-type setups with their universities.

“Why would I choose one university over another?” questioned Rounds. “If we’ve got a university out there and they want to help, the opportunity to put together with their community an incubator setting, I’ll help, but they’re going to bring it to me first… and if I have three of them in the state, more power to them.”

New tourism ideas will get the same welcome reception. The annual motorcycle rally at Sturgis is “fabulous,” said Rounds, “but, we’ve got room for more…”

The same kind of answer was given to Plankinton publisher Gayle Van Genderen, who inquired whether the now closed juvenile detention center in Plankinton could be reopened by the state some time in the future as a model job training education facility. She noted the $14 million renovation done to the facility several years before it was closed.

It would be up to the community to put together a plan. Rounds said it costs the state $100,000 a year to keep the facility maintained, despite it being closed. It was offered to Plankinton for a dollar, he said, if they could find a way to use it.

“I believe if that community shows the spirit that ‘we think this is a tool in our own economic development, and we believe we have the people with the background taking kids that are in trouble and helping them…'” said Rounds, “and I’m not going to tell that community that that type of spirit shouldn’t be aided.”

If they can bring him a plan, they can have it, he said, and then he would go to the Legislature to convince lawmakers the plan was viable.

He said he had already inquired about using it for the adult medium/maximum security prisoners for which the Department of Corrections is seeking an additional facility. “From the adult prisoner point of view,” said Rounds, “we haven’t found a way to use it.”

Later in the news conference, Rounds returned to the use of the Plankinton facility, noting that “one of the frustrating things we discovered was in trying to find professionals that you would find in a juvenile setting… here on a daily basis to help those kids who need help.”

Plankinton is a small community, he added, and “you’re not going to find …the qualified professionals holding the degrees and respected background that we found that we needed.

“Part of it was finding a way to get that help there.”

It can be frustrating, he said, but if the people of Plankinton think they can handle that, “let’s give them the opportunity to let them try.”

Van Genderen said the local people who had worked at the facility were “relieved from their jobs,” but still are there and willing to work.

Rounds said he didn’t disagree that some people there had a background in working with children, “but some of the professional positions that were expected of us to have in that facility, we did not have.”

#1.887486:87731305.jpg:rounds1.jpg:Gov. Mike Rounds addresses members of the South Dakota Newspaper Association during Newspaper Day at the Legislature Jan. 30. The annual event allows member newspapers the opportunity to ask Rounds questions specific to their area.:CNS