Grant County Devlopment Corporation Celebrates 30 years

Friday, June 03, 2016

By Debbie Hemmer,

Grant County Review

An overview of the activities of the Grant County Development Corporation during the past year was presented at the annual meeting Thursday, May 26, in the Speedway Event Center in Milbank.

                The public portion of the event included a meal, followed by comments from Brian Sandvig, president, and Bobbie Bohlen, executive director.

                Bohlen thanked the members on the board for their work during the year. She also noted that the goal of the corporation this year was to be more cordial, more creative, more connected and more celebratory.

                A main priority of the organization was to focus on the youth. “We want to show them that opportunities exist here,” she said. “We want them to come back and grace us with their presence.”

                Bohlen noted that job opportunities do exist in the area, as evidenced by the number of jobs advertised in local media. “If we filled all those jobs, it would have a $2.5 million impact on our economy,” she stated.

                Bohlen pointed out that finding housing for new employees is a concern. “We lack appropriate housing and it is affecting our growth,” she said. She informed the crowd that the organization was engaged with the problem and actively searching for solutions.

                Bohlen reviewed some of the economic successes during the year which included the opening of the Milbank Shopko Hometown, and the Big Sioux Pork by Pipestone Systems. The pork facility has 17 employees and a yearly payroll of $800,000.

                Bohlen also recognized the small victories such as obtaining a new doctor and opening of a skating rink. “They are small, but no less satisfactory,” she remarked.

                Mark Mickelson of Sioux Falls was the main speaker at the event. He is a South Dakota House Representative from District 13, and was speaker pro tempore for the 2015-16 legislative session.

                Mickelson revealed that he is the son of the late George S. Mickelson, former state governor who was killed in a plane crash.

                He told the crowd that Milbank is lucky to have a good rail service, other communities were not as fortunate, and pointed out that without that service the Big Stone Power Plant would not have been built.

                He stated that the railroad brought members of his family to South Dakota during the land-boom era. “They road the train to the end of the track, and walked 20 miles to their homestead in the Bowdle area,” he said. “They wrote a letter home to relatives back in Wisconsin, and said they were coming back there because there were too many rocks in the area.” Relatives replied, “There is no land left in Wisconsin, so pick up the rocks, and put them in a pile. You are staying there.”

                Mickelson noted that agriculture production has increased with 800 million bushels of corn harvested last year, compared to 40 million bushels of corn in 1976. “Our only limits are through the goals we set,” he said. “What you think you can do, determines what you will get done.”

                A board meeting was conducted prior to the public event. The terms of Scott Hoeke and Dave Gonzenbach expired, but they both chose to serve on the board for another term. Other board members are Sandvig, Dave Hepper, Steve Ahles, Steve Wenzl, Jim Gesswein, Kevin Kouba, Tim Graf, Jeff Kurtz, Tom Schuneman, Katy Heller, Dave Hicks, Troy Kastrup, Steve Nomeland, Steve Weiner, city liaison, and Marty Buttke, county liaison. Officers for the coming year will be elected at the next board meeting in June.

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