Seth Tupper

Business and Economic Development Beat

Seth Tupper has been named SDPB’s new Business and Economic Development Reporter. Tupper is based at SDPB’s Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.

Raised in Wessington Springs and Kimball, and a graduate of Kimball High School, Tupper earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University. Tupper most recently reported for the Rapid City Journal, where he spent five years covering politics, Black Hills-based natural-resource management, county government and numerous other topics. Prior to his tenure at the Journal, Tupper worked for The Daily Republic in Mitchell and The Daily Globe in Worthington, MN. Tupper wrote the 2017 book Calvin Coolidge in the Black Hills (Arcadia Publishing), about the president’s eventful three-month stay in 1927.

Travel South Dakota

The Tourism Department said Thursday that the state is enjoying a big payoff from the July 3 fireworks and presidential speech at Mount Rushmore, but the department acknowledged there was a cost to taxpayers. 

In a news release, the department estimated it will spend $1.5 million on the event by the time all of the bills are added up. That includes the fireworks display, transportation, security and other items, the department said. 

New data from the federal government reveal more information about the Paycheck Protection Program, including some of the loan recipients. 

And that information shows the program’s deep and wide reach in South Dakota. 

Seth Tupper / SDPB

America’s divisions were on display Friday night at Main Street Square in Rapid City. 

Several hundred people gathered to watch and applaud a live video of President Trump’s speech from Mount Rushmore. 

Meanwhile, protesters shouted on a street corner nearby. 

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National Park Service

People who attend the fireworks show ­­at Mount Rushmore might notice there’s still some construction to do at the memorial, but a park official said that won’t affect the visitor experience. 

For the past year, parts of the visitor area have been blocked off. It’s part of an $8 million improvement project. 

National Park Service

The Noem administration said it would raise private money for a Mount Rushmore fireworks display attended by President Trump.  

Instead, taxpayers are footing the bill. And the money’s coming from a fund for research and economic development.  


Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

When state Sen. Jeff Partridge urged his fellow legislators to approve the creation of a small-business relief fund at the end of March, he made a prediction. 

He said the money would be needed by the kinds of businesses “that we might not even be thinking of yet.” 

Seth Tupper / SDPB

Small businesses in South Dakota may get an opportunity to apply for pandemic-relief grants. 

Gov. Kristi Noem said the money would come from the $1.25 billion in federal aid the state already received.  

Noem is busy finding ways to spend that federal money. This week, she’s on a tour of the state. The focus of her message is $200 million from that federal package that can reimburse local governments for pandemic expenses. 

Josh Haiar / SDPB

Gamblers at casinos in Deadwood wagered more than $88 million last month. The new numbers come from the state Revenue Department. 

South Dakota Tourism

It’s been more than a decade since fireworks exploded over Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but a toxic chemical from those fireworks still pollutes the memorial’s well-water.  

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it will not regulate that chemical, called “perchlorate,” despite previously saying it would. 

City of Sturgis

Sturgis will hold a motorcycle rally in early August, but city leaders will make adjustments for COVID-19 and hope for smaller crowds. 


South Dakota collected more sales taxes through May of this fiscal year than it did through May of the last fiscal year, despite this year’s pandemic and recession. 

That’s not what Gov. Kristi Noem expected in mid-April. 

Josh Haiar / SDPB

South Dakota had fewer new unemployment claims last week than any other state, and it was the only state with fewer than 1,000 new claims. 

The number of new claims in South Dakota was 817. That continues a downward trend since weekly claims peaked at more than 8,000 in early April. 

City of Sturgis

City leaders in Sturgis are considering a compromise plan for this year’s annual motorcycle rally. 

Some residents say canceling the rally would devastate the local economy. Others say allowing the rally would expose residents to an outbreak of COVID-19. 

Alex Miller / Via National Weather Service

Western South Dakotans are recovering from repeat bouts of extremely severe weather. 

Storm reports include 3-inch-diameter hail, and wind speeds above 90 miles per hour. 

South Dakota Tourism

The state of South Dakota has selected a company to produce the July 3 fireworks show at Mount Rushmore for up to $350,000. 

The company is Pyro Spectaculars. Jim Souza is president and CEO of the company in Rialto, California.  

Josh Haiar / SDPB

During the pandemic, South Dakotans haven’t had to look for work while receiving unemployment benefits. 

But that could change by August. 

State of South Dakota

Gov. Kristi Noem said she’s considering several ways to reform policing, in response to protests across South Dakota and the nation after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

During a press conference Wednesday, Noem listed three things she’s examining. 

Paul Schackow / SDPB

Rancher Rick Fox said there aren’t as many buyers for his cattle anymore, because the four major beef processors are so big they’ve pushed out competition. 

He said that drives down the price of cattle. 

Paul Schackow / SDPB

The coronavirus pandemic could be a pivotal moment for the beef industry, because it’s shining a new light on old problems. 

One of those problems is a lack of competition in beef processing. Four big companies control more than 80 percent of the industry. It’s called “packer concentration,” and it's been a sore subject with ranchers for more than 100 years. 

Sioux Falls police arrested two people when a crowd turned violent Sunday night at the Empire Mall. 

Chief Matt Burns said Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies made the arrests. He said most officers focused on protecting property. 

Sanford Health News

The top doctor at Sanford Health says South Dakota will continue a pilot study of the drug hydroxychloroquine, but the drug will not go to people who are sick with COVID-19. 

Instead, researchers will look at the drug’s ability to prevent or lessen the severity of the disease. 

Dan Austin / Paha Sapa Grotto

When Shaun and Courtney Erk bought their house in Black Hawk four years ago, they went through the usual steps, like a home inspection.  

“You know, there was nothing as far as a foundation issue.” Courtney said. “We had the radon test done. We had everything done you’re supposed to do.” 

South Dakota Tourism

The head of the Black Hills National Forest said Wednesday he was frustrated with a lack of communication about a summer fireworks event planned for Mount Rushmore National Memorial. 

The National Park Service oversees Mount Rushmore. But the Forest Service manages most of the land around it. 

Mineral Mountain Resources

A Black Hills group that advocates for clean water is suing the Forest Service

The Black Hills Clean Water Alliance wants information on exploratory gold drilling. The alliance filed a Freedom of Information Act request two years ago in 2018.  

Black Hills National Forest

The Black Hills timber industry is either logging itself to death, or logging sustainably.  

Both conclusions have been reached by opposing sides reading the same report.  

The report, written by Forest Service researchers, says there aren’t enough ponderosa pine trees in the forest to sustain current logging.  


Unemployment benefits paid to South Dakotans have totaled $87.8 million since the pandemic began affecting the state’s economy in mid-March. 

That’s according to Marcia Hultman, the head of the state Department of Labor and Regulation. 

“Eight weeks ago it was like a light switch was flipped, and claims instantly – and to a degree never before seen – began to hit our system,” Hultman said. 

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

One of the nation’s top bankers told a Rapid City audience not to worry about the federal government’s debt, at least for now. 

Neel Kashkari is president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He participated remotely in a live video discussion Tuesday as part of the Morning Fill-Up speaker series in Rapid City. 

Seth Tupper / SDPB

John Gomez only gets 50 gigabytes of monthly data from his satellite internet service.  

“So basically no video is allowed in this house,” he said. “After the 50 gigs they basically throttle you and you have very slow internet.” 

To enforce that no-video rule, he’s had to get militant. 

Seth Tupper / SDPB

President Trump’s plan to attend a fireworks display July 3 at Mount Rushmore National Memorial has some people worried in the small tourist town at the base of the mountain. 

Lynette Gohsman is the president of the town board of Keystone, population 337. She said past fireworks shows at Mount Rushmore filled her town with visitors. This time, she worries the visitors might bring COVID-19.