It's no secret the hunting industry helps drive Mitchell's economic engine, and Katie Knutson is working to make sure it stays that way.
And with the help of a newly formed state organization, Knutson, the director of the Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau, will do this not only for Mitchell but across all of South Dakota.
Knutson was named co-chair for Hunting Works for South Dakota, a recently created group that plans to educate the public about the importance relationship between hunting and the state's economy.
"We're involved to make sure hunting stays and continues to prosper in South Dakota, and that we continue to see that ripple effect in our economy," Knutson said, citing that approximately $8 million is brought into Davison County through pheasant hunting alone.
Contacted by Hunting Works for South Dakota earlier this year, Knutson said she was glad to join the organization and its mission. And two other area officials are doing the same. Joining Knutson as co-chairs are Holly Glover, executive director for the Gregory Dallas Chamber of Commerce, and Karla Brozik, executive director for the Winner Chamber of Commerce.
Along with five others, the eight co-chairs will work throughout the year to educate the state on the importance of hunting in South Dakota. And it all began because of continued formations of several anti-hunting organizations, Knutson said.
To avoid the potential future loss of hunters in South Dakota, Knutson said the state needs to celebrate the economic impact of hunting. Knutson said the organization will also focus on promoting hunting as a tradition and encourage families to continue passing it down to their children.
And co-chair Kevin Nyberg agrees. Nyberg is the owner of Nyberg's Ace Hardware in Sioux Falls, and he said each year he sees first-hand the economic impact the tradition plays in the state.
"It's no secret that hunting is a big deal for a lot of people in South Dakota. I personally see the strength of our hunting heritage every year," Nyberg said in a recent press release. "There is something really great about seeing second and third generations coming into the store preparing to go out hunting together."
But on top of heritage, Knutson added that the state needs to partner together to "express how much hunting actually brings in economically." Knutson continued to say that approximately $723 million is spent annual from the nearly 270,000 hunters in South Dakota each year. Hunting in the state supports more than 11,000 jobs, and generates $62 million in state and local taxes.
And Knutson wants the organization to become even bigger in Mitchell and South Dakota.
"I love the Hunting Works for South Dakota campaign. I hope we can grow it," she said, adding that it will take time before a large increase is noticed. "That's my goal. These are the facts, and we want these numbers to grow."