THANK YOU to Denny Sanford for His Multi-Million Solution To Worker Shortage

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, SD - "South Dakota has been so good to me, truly. Look at the wealth it has created for me and all the jobs it has created," Philanthropist T. Denny Sanford said. 


T. Denny Sanford is giving back to South Dakota once again.
Sanford will gift the state with $25 million toward solving a workforce shortage that has reached a crisis level.


Sanford's money provides half of the funds for a $50 million scholarship program at the state's technical schools to train workers to fill jobs.


While four-year universities have traditionally benefited the most from scholarship programs, Sanford's donation will bridge the gap for technical schools.


Whether they're jobs in construction, the medical field, or engineering there just simply aren't enough trained workers to fill them all.  When Denny Sanford's First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard executives approached him about one possible solution, he didn't hesitate. 


I said, 'I'm all in.' I really want to help the state.  And I talked to Dennis about it; our governor.  And he said, 'Look, will you match what the state will put up?' And I said, 'I'll be happy to,'" Denny Sanford said.


The $50 million scholarship program will cover tuition for those students who chose to learn skills in areas where there are worker shortages.


"They get free--all paid tuition for this--if they stay in the state," Sanford said.


Students would have to commit to stay in the state for three years following graduation. 


While Southeast Tech is the largest technical school in the state with the most programs, all four technical schools will benefit and get a piece of the scholarship pie. 


"There are great technical careers being supported all throughout this state and we certainly want to make sure every student has an opportunity," Jeff Holcomb, President of Southeast Tech said. 


With the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation, South Dakota has tried several initiatives, with varying degrees of success, to fill the jobs most in demand.

"This is going one step beyond.  This is really helping focus on, how do we develop South Dakota?  And how do we get people in the right careers at the right time to advance the purposes of economic development today, as well as way into the future?" Holcomb said.


"There are a lot of industries that are close to shutting down because they don’t have enough trades people. This is the best solution we can offer," Sanford said.

A technical education typically runs between $12,000 to $15,000 for a two year program.  The tech schools have yet to determine which programs will offer scholarship money. 


Most of Sanford's Donations have been to Sanford Health, but he's also donated to South Dakota's Universities, Homestake Underground lab and the Crazy Horse Monument.  Sanford has given away more than a billion dollars and has signed "The Giving Pledge," along with the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.  He tells KELOLAND News, he plans to die broke.


Watch KELOLAND News tomorrow at 5, 6 and 10 for more coverage of the new tech scholarship program.

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