Sioux Falls is Full of Boom Town Rats and very few Progressives

Well the ‘Boom Town’ mentality chickens have finally come home to roost;

Sioux Falls Development Foundation is getting creative in reaching out to those living nearby with a social media and mailer campaign. Bob Mundt is the President and CEO.

“It is a tremendous need over the next several years to bring people Sioux Falls to work the jobs that we’re creating and so we’re being really creative as to how we do that, looking at how we can reach out to other communities,” said Mundt.

The campaign is targeting residents throughout the midwest.

“Minneapolis, Twin Cities area, Des Moines, Sioux City, Council Bluffs Omaha, Fargo,” said Mundt. “A lot of production jobs. We need a lot of specialized jobs, skilled level jobs.”

Another challenge for those relocating is finding a place to live.

“I think it’s a challenge that we have, is to come up with a way to have more housing and the affordable housing areas,” said Mundt. “And so I think when we really talk about housing, that’s probably the next big thing. We’re going to have to push hard on is making sure that we have places for those folks to live.”

“We just want people to come to Sioux Falls and become part of our community,” said Mundt.

I really didn’t know when the bomb fire would start burning out of control in Sioux Falls, but it is really starting to roar. It is estimated that for ever 10 jobs available in Sioux Falls there are only 2-4 workers to even ‘possibly’ fill them. This means passing background checks, drug tests and sometimes health screenings. And if you can get pass that, you may have to deal with attendance issues due to child care.

So how did this all happen? I guess I don’t have to do a bunch of scientific economic studies to tell you the obvious reasons. COVID and the national economy along with global warming issues is driving people and businesses to our region, that is unquestionable, but what has put this ‘Growth for Growth’ sakes attitude take hold is from the years of throwing money at developers and especially development parks. We still live in this dream world that trickle-down economics works. It has never worked and never will (except for those on top of the food pyramid). Even before the ridiculous and unneeded $94 million dollar TIF to Flopdation Park, the taxpayers in the State, County and City have dumped well over $50 million in infrastructure into the place. And for what? Thousands of below living wage jobs that cannot be filled. But this is kind of like throwing gas on the fire (in the form of tax rebates, FREE infrastructure upgrades and TIFs) and it has been going on for over two decades and now that we have ‘over attracted’ business here, we don’t have the workers to fill the jobs, the wages to maintain a economically stable middle class community and the housing they need to live here.

The writing was on the wall folks.

One reason I have railed against TIFs for years is that it is a foolish way to spend property TAX dollars. Instead of investing 100% of that money into the entire community (roads, schools, social programs, etc.) the enormous tax breaks go towards the private investors and developers who spend it on propping up their own businesses while we subsidize those rebates and now it seems to the detriment to the rest of the community.

I have felt that if we would have started cleaning up our core, 15-20 years ago, using these same tax dollars, building up density, propping up affordable housing, and investing in local businesses we would be in a much different position now. Would our growth have been slower? Yes, but it would have been more manageable and we would have developed local wealth. Instead of investing in the core, we blew it on Pools, Event Centers, Bunker Ramps, Dirty Railroad land, etc.

But our failures in infrastructure upgrades is just part of the problem.

While I don’t have an issue with bringing folks in from all over the country, or even other countries (diversity is a good thing) I wonder where they will live? In tents?

While we built up businesses (even ones from other parts of the country and world, who pay little to no Federal or state taxes) we neglected affordable housing, affordable neighborhoods, local business and infrastructure, and somehow we think we are going to be able to put out this bomb fire?

Good luck.
It is possible though.

First we would have to change our entire city council and mayor’s office, county commission and school board. We would also have to restructure our city charter. We would also have to put an immediate freeze on all tax rebates and TIFs to developers and businesses (they don’t need any more incentives folks). We also should put a 2-4 year moratorium on NEW quality of life projects (Did you know the Canaries want us to help build a new stadium). We also need to change ordinance so that the city has at least a $11-13 an hour minimum wage, and wage listing requirement in help wanted ads, and a change in zoning and regulation for homes older then 50 years so it is easier to fix up affordable homes or expand them. We also need to focus a majority of the 2nd penny on cleaning up our core and creating more density.

This of course would mean we would have to overhaul our entire structure of government in Sioux Falls and make bold decisions helping the CITIZENS of our city instead of the MONIED elite. I know, a total 180 from how things are done now.

I hate to say it, but it is going to be a rough ride in Sioux Falls over the next 5 years if some of these things are not done. Inflation in housing will skyrocket, property taxes will become unreasonable, crime is definitely going to go up (and not just because of population growth as our Mayor and Former Police Chief contends).
We will also need a change in the mentality of public employees who will need to have more of a culture of customer service instead a culture of kiss ass the mayor.

I have no intention of leaving Sioux Falls, no matter what happens, but we are no longer the big prairie village that can get away with the old white dudes running the town and pillaging the city coffers. We are going to have to make big progressive moves if we are going to come out of this, because the rich old money white good old boys Republican playbook ain’t working.


#1 D@ily Spin on 07.13.21 at 7:38 pm

What’s wonderful about Californians coming is they’re politically active and mostly Democrats. This could become a blue state. Growth here is not only Sioux Falls but also Rapid City. What’s happening makes me want to stay. There will be inflation but nothing like the west coast. Nobody will work if there’s not a living wage. Present government failed us but transition is coming. I’d like to see criminal politicians jailed but it’s better to just expose them and focus on growth. Pelosi for Mayor?

#2 Conservative Here on 07.14.21 at 3:05 pm

South Dakota is not even coming close to becoming a blue state, if anything its becoming more red.

If you look at the increase/decrease in registered voters month over month you see that the Democrats in the last year along have had 6 months in net loses. If you go back to 2006 to today, the Dems have lost about 40k and the Reps have gained 40k, that is an 80k swing. The Indys have doubled their vote count since 06. So while it feels nice for you all to say this could be a blue state, the numbers say otherwise.

#3 Reliable Voter on 07.14.21 at 5:36 pm

New CNBC rankings for businesses suggests Southdacola gets it. Turns out being #1 in business friendliness doesn’t thrill the way it used to.

#4 Translator on 07.14.21 at 10:02 pm

The whole thing appears to be code speak for “Sioux Falls employers are too incompetent to manage anything but perfect employees but we don’t want to pay more than minimum wage so we will ignore the people who would work for a fair wage and flood the market with applicants. In order to meet our egregious profit goals and maintain our country club lifestyle we want to socialize the social costs of these employees onto the taxpayers via subsidized housing, medicaid, TIFs and everything else we can think of.”

It is worth noting that Sioux Falls and Brandon have such a surplus of affordable housing and other subsidies that buses run taking SD residents to jobs in MN packing plants every day. MN gets the income tax. SD pays for the educational expenses of their children and provides their medical care. Politically connected politicians and developers pocket the initial federal credits (about 10%) to build the low income properties and the rest of us pay for years to come. I wonder why they don’t suggest an income tax which is only due on labor outside the state to fund the new housing and a medicaid expansion.

#5 Mike Lee Zitterich on 07.15.21 at 12:16 am

Hold on a second…where is your facts guys, Most businesses in Sioux Falls are paying above the ‘state’ minimum wage. Where are the facts here?

Mcdonalds is starting at $13.13 per hour and still cant get workers, cause the federal govt wants to keep handing welfare checks, benefits, and Bribes.

#6 Conservative Here on 07.15.21 at 11:25 am

Mike – I am with you on the wage front. I am seeing actual signs such as Taco Johns saying they will beat your current pay! The fact that McDonalds of all places is paying 13.50 an hour is shocking. I spoke to the owner of one a company that installs blinds in Sioux Falls. This person advised they are looking for a installer with no experience as long as the have the right attitude for 40-50k per year.

I am hearing this from several people who own small and big businesses that they are paying and paying well they just need folks to SHOW UP for work. Most applicants are not even coming to job interviews. Installing blinds is not rocket science and the fact they are paying that just to install blinds (dude did mine in like 35 minutes) shows me there is a market for people who want to work.

This broad brush we paint business in Sioux Falls as a bunch of greedy non paying places is just false. There are SO many places paying pretty darn good. I have heard it from hiring managers everywhere to the point they are desperate and paying well above the going rate.

Are there some real cheap skates out there, SURE. I know of several but, they always have so many issues with their staff I am shocked they are still in business half the time. I just don’t think the broad brush is accurate at all but, maybe I am living in bubble with signs on companies everywhere advertising their pay. I say $15+ dollars an hour to sling meat on a Taco is pretty good considering its a low skill job but, hey what do I know.

#7 Reliable Voter on 07.15.21 at 1:20 pm

SD is full of barely solvent businesses. Places where the owners work because they can’t afford to employ anyone else, and resent it when they can’t hire people willing to be among the working poor.

#8 Very Stable Genius on 07.15.21 at 9:42 pm

It will interesting to see how the Republicans in this state will use this new reality to try to jam even more legislative districts into Sioux Falls – with a rural voting element attached – to weaken the blue vote and the anticipated blue vote growth due to the population growth of Sioux Falls, which will result from the need for more employees in this town over the next ten years.

#9 Erica on 07.15.21 at 10:28 pm

So you think it’s the Govt’s job to tell employers what their employees are worth, whether they truly are or not? Why do you need the Govt to fix all of our problems or even trust them to when they are in fact the reason for the majority of our problems? They (Govt at any level) don’t do anything effectively, efficiently, or ever under budget. Govt IS our problem.

#10 Reliable Voter on 07.16.21 at 8:56 am

Erica: without the direct intervention of the federal government SD would not have electricity, phone service, paved roads, water and sewer, hospitals, public universities, or a tourist industry. SD receives federal disaster money on a nearly continual basis-drought, blizzard, fire, flood, tornado. You’re so used to the government fixing our problems you don’t notice it.

#11 Very Stable Genius on 07.16.21 at 9:45 am

Erica, you are government. I am the government. Everyone is the government. Why don’t you trust yourself? The absence of government is anarchy masked as liberty.

#12 rufusx on 07.18.21 at 9:24 pm

Con Here – if taco Johns will beat my current hourly wage of $35/hr. I might consider a job there. Ain’t gonna happen. PS – I work for a closed union shop out of Minnesota. As to state income taxes – whatever state one works in collects it, if they have one. I have paid in 5 different states so far this year.

#13 Randle McMurphy on 07.19.21 at 2:00 pm

Rufusx – Do I know you from somewhere?
I did not know chain gangs paid so well – did Big Nurse give you a raise?

#14 Conservative Here on 07.19.21 at 3:50 pm

Rufusx – I am sure Taco Johns is being flippant and trying to get applicants to fill jobs and will pay up to a certain limit. I think you are missing the point of my post, the fact that even fast food hiring places are paying well above the minimum wage for mindless work

#15 The Guy From Guernsey on 07.20.21 at 8:05 am

“Value” of the work performed is rather more important than classification of the work as “mindless”.
Albeit that cleaning and changing linens might be “mindless”, what is the value of hotel housekeepng staff who turnover a room which a hotel business owner can sell for $250-400 on the ensuing night on the same day? (looking at you Black Hills hospitality industry)
Throw that forward to the fast food business – difficult to make money on burritos which you do not sell … because you couldn’t (didn’t want to) pay someone to make the food.
Those businesses faced with curtailing their business activities (or closing) because they are unable (or unwilling?) to compete for the people resources needed to run their businesses are learning this lesson in the current environment.

#16 The Guy From Guernsey on 07.20.21 at 8:36 am

‘Reliable Voter’ is spot on with the take on business in the state.
Poor business culture is bred and spawned the result of the resentment toward employees (because “these employees are just taking butter from my bread”).
‘Conservative Here’, after you describe exactly the self-serving, “cheapskate” business owner and confess to know several of this type in this city, you need to pick up a brush from the artist tray which is more broad the No. 0.
You are painting the background on the canvas; no longer providing outline details to birch trees.