Brookings among top 11 cities for economic growth

Brookings was named among the top 11 cities for economic growth and development, according to a study by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. 

Brookings is the fourth largest community in South Dakota with nearly 33,000 people and still growing. According to the study, from 1990 to 2013 Brookings grew by 30 percent due to its appealing business opportunities and lifestyle. The study also observed that South Dakota State University plays a key role in the growth and livelihood of Brookings.

According to the study, with around 12,500 students, SDSU injects more that $67 million into the region and the state. The study also says that SDSU directly and indirectly employs some 5,700 people, directly employing 2,285 of them and bringing $135.5 million in salaries and benefits to the area.

The study also finds that SDSU’s direct and induced economic impact is an estimated $1.97 billion annually.

Elliot Johnson, the executive director of Downtown Brookings Inc., believes that SDSU students play key roles in the development and growth of Brookings.

“I think because our population is thriving with SDSU – they [the students] are just as equal to the community members,” Johnson said. “We’re sustained right now because we have that partnership and that collaboration with students at SDSU and Downtown Brookings.”

SDSU is not the only company in Brookings that helps its economic growth and development. Companies in the manufacturing industry such as Daktronics, 3M and Larson Manufacturing along with Regional Economic Development Organizations such as Brookings Economic Development Corp. and Downtown Brookings Inc. also play key roles according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. study.

In 2005 the Vision Brookings Coalition made up of the Brookings Economic Development Corp., Downtown Brookings Inc. and Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce came together “to make Brookings a better place to live, invest and enjoy life” according to the coalition’s online explanation. The coalition raised over $4.1 million to start Vision Brookings 2010, a five-year plan to expand and invest in Brooking’s economic growth. According to the online plan, the Vision Brookings 2010 goals were to “provide funds to position the community to attract knowledge-based businesses, retain and attract a solid workforce, address needed improvements in its downtown and accelerate sustainable economic growth by encouraging entrepreneurism.”

Since the goals of the Vision Brookings 2010 have been accomplished, the coalition has created a new project, Vision Brookings II. According to the Vision Brookings Coalition website, this new investment of $2.5 million in private donations aims to promote business expansion and recruitment, develop the innovation campus at SDSU, develop the Brookings workforce, support entrepreneurship and invest in management and communications in the area.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. study suggests that the dedication and efforts of the Vision Brookings Coalition helped shape Brookings today.

Johnson believes that the efforts of Downtown Brookings and the community’s involvement together gives Brookings the special feel that community members and visitors appreciate.

“It’s an exciting time in Brookings and I think we have a unique opportunity where the location of our downtown is really at the central heart of Brookings,” Johnson said. “It’s really unique that everyone can join this downtown. Whether you’re a college student or a member of the community it’s a really prime location to have an event and different activities downtown.”

Although Samantha Bridges, a freshman electrical engineering major and a native from Brookings, does not venture into the dowtown or become involved in the community as she did in high school, she has experienced Brooking’s growth over the years. 

Overall, Bridges believes SDSU and the Brookings community have a close relationship.

“[SDSU and Brookings] seem pretty interconnected,” Bridges said. “Everyone I grew up with had some sort of connection to SDSU.”