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SET Program Pushes Collaboration In Rural Economies

United States Department of Agriculture

Many small communities in South Dakota struggle to boost their economies.  A program provides rural economic development experts to four counties in the northeast part of the state. The program hopes to foster economic development by boosting coloration between neighboring towns and counties.

The Glacial Lakes region is comprised of Day, Grant, Marshall and Roberts Counties. These four counties are part of the Stronger Economies Together program. SET is organized by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and South Dakota State University Extension. Paula Corcoran (CORK-RAN) is a Community Development Specialist for the USDA Rural Development. She says the program is really about helping communities find their own way.

“It is basically the communities the ones that are drawing their own blueprint. So they come together and figure out their strengths and the things they want to work on and eventually set up some economic plans for their communities. So basically we’re trying to help move this process along through the SET. We work with South Dakota SDSU Extension through the coaching and the partnership through that,” says Corcoran.

Corcoran says the program provides coaching and technical assistance. However it’s up to the Glacial Lakes region to put in the work.

“They already had a strong, you know, they’ve got some ideas already of what they want to do. They’re got a strong basis to start the program. And they also include areas that are very sought after, you know what I mean, to help develop. But their application was a good application, you know that was strong; they knew what they wanted to do. They had a lot of partners that are will to come to the table. And things like that,” says Corcoran.

Corcoran says the program has helped South Dakota communities for four years now. She says the program has had positive affects in areas such as the Black Hills.