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Business Leaders Talk SD’s Economy At BH Forum And Press Club

Kenzie Wagner

Two business leaders in Rapid City spoke at the Black Hills Forum and Press Club on Friday to discuss the ups and downs of South Dakota’s economy, including what lies ahead.

Ben Snow is with Rushmore Region, the group promotes economic development. He says South Dakota is protected from recessions more so than other places in the U.S.

“We did fair better than a lot of places in the country, you’ve heard people say that we’re recession resistant, and it’s true. Our highs aren’t as high, our lows aren’t as low, and that’s good when these boom bust cycles happen around us that we don’t get fully swept into it and take a beating like a lot a lot of these places do,” says Snow.

But Eric Abrahamson sees a different side of the story. He's  with Black Hills Knowledge Network, a statewide information hub. He says while most of South Dakota faired well in 2013, the Rapid City area saw a recession many weren’t even aware of.

“We need to pay better attention. We need to be looking at these numbers across the board so that we can understand what’s happening because the Bureau of Economic Analysis just released these numbers this week and you can see that our region, the plains region, suffered the most of any part of the country. Why? Because the Wyoming coal fields have been laying off hundreds, thousands of workers, North Dakota is closing down,” says Abrahamson.

Abrahamson adds that while South Dakota is nearly back to pre-recession numbers, the state could be headed into a storm once again. Snow doesn’t disagree with Abrahamson. He says South Dakota is facing a workforce development issue, where there isn’t enough trade or professional workers to cope with demands. Abrahamson says that workforce growth among Native Americans is key to solving the issue.

Listen below for the full audio of the Black Hills Forum and Press Club Gathering.