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LA Times: SF is recession proof because of our modest (working poor) lifestyle

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Who needs a decent wage when we have a Super Target!

Need a good laugh? Read this story in yesterday’s LA Times about how Sioux Falls is recession proof. Not only does Munson turn up the bullshit in his interview, the reporter fails to give the whole story in several parts of the column. That, and there is one inaccuracy that literally made me spit my vodka cranberry across the room last night while reading it.

Reporting from Sioux Falls, S.D. — Mayor Dave Munson drove past acres of chopped-up prairie and pointed matter-of-factly at signs of economic health that are hard to come by in most of the country.

“This is going to be a very strong retail center,” he said, waving at one graded lot where a Target store is to be built. He gestured at the other side of the road. “There’s another development.”

That’s right kiddies, no more going to the food banquet and food pantry, we’ve been saved by the Super Target (insert joyous celebration here).

Home-building is healthier than elsewhere; permits for new single-family homes are half of what they were here at their 2003 peak, but nationwide have fallen by two-thirds from their peak.

The reporter fails to mention that total construction value is down over half from last year (-$38 million). I guess talking to the planning department, wasn’t part of the interview.

Residents know they have a modest lifestyle, but feel that brings security. “It’s a slower pace, so you don’t have much money to play with,” said Rod Hersrud, 49, pest-control worker.

Like I’ve been saying, it’s hard to be affected by a recession when you’ve been poor the last 15 years to begin with.

For decades, Sioux Falls was a modest agricultural outpost, a place for farmers to pick up new equipment or have a fancy dinner.

You can get a fancy dinner in Sioux Falls? Please point me in the right direction!

Its main employer was a hog-butchering plant.

Which still stinks up the air. I love how they didn’t call it a ‘meatpacking plant’. Funny.

“People were very proud,” Munson recalled. “It lifted the whole being of Sioux Falls to say we can get a corporation like Citi to come here.”

“Because instead of butchering hogs, we started butchering people’s credit, and┬árecently the American taxpayer! Yee-Ha! We are the BUTCHERING capital of the world!”

Despite the pummeling the financial sector has taken, the banks have only made limited cuts in Sioux Falls because it is so much cheaper to operate here. Citibank, for example, has slashed 53,000 jobs around the world but only 122 here.

This is where I spit up laughing. Where did the reporter get that number? Citi’s HR department? Citi has been laying off people every week steadily for the past 6 months and rumor has it, more to come if a big chunk of the company gets sold to an Indian entity.

Nowadays the top employer is neither the banks nor agriculture, but healthcare, a sector that has been fairly resistant to the downturn. The city is home to two large and growing health systems — Sanford Health and Avera McKennan — that employ 13,500 people.

Helped by a $400-million donation from a local credit card magnate, Sanford has increased its staff by 1,200 since 2007. It just finished a new children’s hospital shaped like a castle and plans to break ground on a 185-acre medical research park.

Funny, no mention of Avera after that first paragraph. Wonder why that is?

Developers can also promise tenants that they can begin building within 60 to 90 days because the city fast-tracks projects. That’s an example of an aggressively pro-business slant in the city and state that some also credit in part for the resilience amid the recession. South Dakota has no personal or corporate income tax, and the city sales tax in Sioux Falls is 5.92%.

More like ‘anti-citizen’. Funny how we would never hear that from our local newspaper, but a Westcoast reporter could see that a mile away and BTW, the tax was raised to 6%. Makes you wonder when the interview with the city was done? And who gave them that information?

Lloyd Cos. had to scale down a proposed seven-story tower near downtown when it couldn’t find an anchor tenant.

Boo-Hoo. I guess we better start sending tissues to poor Craig Lloyd.

But local retailers report only modest cutbacks in spending, and some say sales have grown. J & L Harley-Davidson posted record sales last year, and January was its best month in three years.

“I told my staff, we’re not going to buy into this economic downturn,” said co-owner Jim Entenman.

Probably doesn’t hurt that Jim has a monopoly on sales and service, and keeps a vigilant eye on keeping competition out. That, and the rich aren’t hurting in Sioux Falls, especially since they pay no income tax and retail taxes on a luxury motorcycle are less then on a loaf of bread.

“It better change soon,” Kathy Sawier, a 49-year-old housecleaner, said of the economy, “or we’ll all be in the poorhouse.”

And that is what was so dissapointing about the column, very little focus on the working poor, homeless and down trodden in our community. That, and mysteriously no mention that almost 50% of Sioux Falls school children live in poverty. I guess Munson borrowed the LA Times his rose colored glasses.