A new economic feasibility study is investigating opportunities for commercial and retail growth in an area on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. The Rosebud Economic Development Corporation—or REDCO—is working with Native-owned Blue Stone Strategy Group to conduct the study.
Wizipan Little Elk is the CEO of REDCO. He says the economic study will focus on the Turtle Creek Sustainable Community Development area in Mission. He says there are already plans to add more than 600 living units to the area along with a greenhouse and community garden that will open in the fall. He says the Blue Stone Strategy group will compile a matrix of other development opportunities that could be sustainable in the area.
“For example, we hear a lot of people talk about the need for a movie theater," says Little Elk. "Well, let’s take a hard look at the numbers and see if a movie theater is viable. I personally think that we can bring an optometrist and a dentist to this area. There’s no optometrist or dentist in Todd county.”
Little Elk says developing the area will help stop economic leakage. He says 8 out of every 10 dollars that comes on the reservation leaves the reservation.
“Primarily we’re seeing a lot of that go to Nebraska, so we’d like to keep some of that money here on the reservation. But that also means sales tax for South Dakota. So what’s good for us is good for the rest of the state.”
Little Elk says interviews and surveys with community members will also play a role in the study. A draft of the report is expected in August, with final numbers in September.