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Business & Economics

Rapid City lives up to its name as region grows quickly

Main Street Square Rapid City.jpg
Seth Tupper
/
SDPB
Main Street Square in Rapid City.

A lot of people are moving to the Black Hills, and that creates both opportunities and difficulties.

Tom Johnson is president and CEO of Elevate Rapid City, a nonprofit that promotes economic development and small businesses in the area.

tom_johnson.jpg
Seth Tupper
Tom Johnson of Elevate Rapid City.

“We're expecting a lot more people in the next 10 years. We think there's probably going to be 30,000 to 40,000 people moving to the Black Hills," he said. "But the infrastructure challenges, the housing challenges that go with that, and the workforce challenges, ,those are something that we're just trying to get our brain wrapped around so that we can accommodate the growth that we know is coming.”

Johnson thinks the pandemic opened a lot of doors for the city, especially Gov. Kristi Noem’s response.

“I'm not going to lie, she's kind of a cult hero for a lot of businesses that have been looking to get away from the coasts under lockdown and we're taking advantage of her star power," Johnson said. "And South Dakota is a great business climate. It's always been there, but now it's getting more attention than ever.”

Johnson said raising the minimum wage is essential for businesses to attract and keep workers.

"It's a competitive environment right now. It's really a nuclear arms race right now for talent," he said.

South Dakota’s current minimum wage for non-tipped employees is $9.45 an hour.

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