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GOED wants state to be No. 1 for business but needs workers

PIERRE -- The Governor's Office of Economic Development is stressing relationships with community organizations and has a three-year recruitment campaign costing $3 million to bring workers to South Dakota, an official for the agency said Monday.

PIERRE - The Governor's Office of Economic Development is stressing relationships with community organizations and has a three-year recruitment campaign costing $3 million to bring workers to South Dakota, an official for the agency said Monday.

Aaron Scheibe, the interim commissioner, met with the Legislative Planning Committee to discuss the office's strategic plan and agree on measurement goals. The lawmakers also brought in Cabinet-level officials from the Game, Fish and Parks; Transportation; and Tourism departments for similar conversations.

Sen. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, at one point emphasized that the process isn't about assigning blame but understanding trends and discussing solutions to improve.

Cammack's comment came during the tourism presentation that showed international travel to South Dakota is down and that more visitors overall are stopping in South Dakota but they are staying less time while spending more.

Scheibe's presentation came during a transition for GOED. Pat Costello stepped aside as commissioner this summer after five-plus years and Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed Scott Stern to replace him.

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Stern starts in September, Scheibe told the committee. Stern originally was part of the family petroleum business at Freeman. Costello is from Sioux Falls.

Scheibe said GOED didn't have a vision statement until the legislative committee asked for one. He described it as a work in progress between the departure by Costello and the arrival of Stern.

"Really at the end of the day it's about improving that quality of life for all South Dakotans," he said. "We have an extremely competitive business climate. We want to be the leading place in the United States for business."

He said the main points that Costello laid out for the legislators in May would continue: Job creation, expansion of property tax base, workforce marketing and community development of sites and staff.

Cammack, who is very active in the South Dakota Retailers Association in addition to his ranch supply business and his legislative work, said he's heard frustration among some community economic development leaders who want a stronger relationship with GOED.

Scheibe said he's willing to meet and talk. He said the office has a new director for research and community development, Joe Fiala, who would be working on those relationships.

"I certainly take your point and we're working on a solution there," Scheibe told Cammack.

Rep. Scott Munsterman, R-Brookings, noted that Fiala previously worked in Miller for the On Hand Development Corp. Munsterman is the committee's chairman.

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The vice-chairman, Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, said "maybe it's the image thing" that is a barrier to people looking for work but not considering South Dakota as the place to make their lives.

"People like South Dakota. Now we've got to get them to say not only do they like it but they want to live here," Vehle said.

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