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MISKIMINS: Corn Palace gives us a chance to tell our story

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

By Jacki Miskimins

Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau

We've all been there: You're on a plane, or at a conference, or on your own vacation, and someone asks, "So where are you from?" Mitchell, South Dakota, you reply.

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"Oh! The Corn Palace!" And before you know it, you're answering their questions about the building or hearing tales of the time they visited with their grandparents when they were young.

The Corn Palace puts us on the map; it gives our city a reference point, something outsiders can point to and say, "I know where that is."

It starts the conversation, and that gives all of us an amazing opportunity: to keep that conversation going and tell our story. And let's not be bashful -- we have an incredible story to tell.

Mitchell is home to the World's Only Corn Palace, yes. We're also home to an active archeological dig, a beautifully kept Carnegie library building, a wonderful cultural and art museum and a museum honoring one of South Dakota's most famous public servants. These attractions are our primary selling points to travelers; but next time you talk to someone who isn't from here, consider fleshing out the story a bit more.

Mitchell has multiple public parks, miles of biking and walking trails, two golf courses, public access boat ramps, beaches and fishing points and a beautiful lakeside amphitheater. We have a stellar outdoor aquatic center, a public ice skating facility with a new second sheet of ice (and ice in the summer!), beautifully kept softball and baseball facilities, and an incredible soccer complex. We're a national destination for pheasant hunting, bolstered in no small part by our incredible outfitters and gorgeous landscape.

It's uncommon for a city to have immediate access to both an interstate and a public lake; and yet, those two features bookend Mitchell to the north and south. It's rare and special that our community has both a four-year liberal arts college and a nationally-recognized technical school; and yet, both Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Technical Institute are here and thriving. I challenge you to go to a movie theater anywhere else in the Midwest and tell me if it beats our hometown Logan Luxury Cinema. For that matter, attend any community or college play performance in the state and compare it to the shows put on by Dakota Wesleyan and the Mitchell Area Community Theatre.

We have a historic downtown that has proven a wildly successful incubator for local businesses. We proudly count Mike Miller, two-time NBA champion, as one of our own -- and proudly root for Chad Greenway and Riley Reiff, NFL standouts from our area.

While the rest of the country battles lingering unemployment, Mitchell has hundreds of clean, highly-skilled, well-paying jobs available in a variety of industries. (Imagine how powerful this message could be for thousands of tourists.)

Mitchell has quietly built a reputation as a hotbed of technology, not just located in the heart of the Midwest but actively changing the technological landscape around us. Companies in Mitchell are literally rewiring rural America for the future. In fact, this quiet hum of world-class high speed broadband has landed Mitchell in Top 21 of Smart Cities worldwide as named by the Intelligent Community Forum -- two years in a row.

We have superior health care, a nationally recognized rodeo, a public dog park, active professional networking groups and dedicated service clubs. Our retailers are widely recognized as offering the best gift and décor shopping in the state. And all of this, built on the bedrock of South Dakota values and hospitality and grit that mark us as Mitchell and make us who we are.

The Corn Palace put Mitchell on the map and started a conversation we all get to take part in. A new tourism season is opening soon, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to Mitchell. Many of them are headed for the Corn Palace -- that's half a million ears, folks. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Let's make sure they hear the whole story.

-- Jacki Miskimins, of Mitchell, is director of the Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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