Seth Tupper

Business and Economic Development Beat

Seth Tupper is SDPB’s business and economic development reporter. He 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.

He 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.

National Park Service

New state laws add some requirements for teenagers to get a driver’s license. 

Dan Lusk is with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. He says the new laws are now in  effect. 


Jordyn Henderson/SDPB


Legal marijuana sales are happening in South Dakota for the first time, but it’s only for medical purposes and there’s only one place to shop so far.  




Results from a new statewide study scratch beneath the surface of South Dakota stereotypes. 

South Dakota Public Broadcasting worked on the study with the Chiesman Center for Democracy at the University of South Dakota. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting provided funding. 

Chiesman Center Director Shane Nordyke started by creating a data report that reflected a popular image of South Dakotans: mostly white, rural and conservative.  

Nuclear Regulatory Commission


The company behind a long-lingering uranium mine proposal wants to start the state permitting process, but opponents say state hearings are premature until legal fights over federal approval are complete.  

A Canadian company, Azarga Uranium, and its South Dakota subsidiary, Powertech, want to mine in the remote Dewey-Burdock area of the southwestern Black Hills near Edgemont. The uranium would go to nuclear power plants. 



The health of the Black Hills National Forest for the next several decades could be determined by the decisions of the next few years. 

The U.S. Forest Service says it will spend those few years writing a new forest plan, which will require a difficult balancing act with logging.  

While the Forest Service’s own researchers say current harvest levels are unsustainable, timber officials say big reductions could wipe out their industry. 

Courtesy of South Dakota Wildland Fire Division.

A wildfire near Rapid City burned several structures Monday afternoon and forced an estimated 500 people to evacuate, but officials anticipate they averted a larger disaster. 

The Schroeder Fire began Monday morning on private property about 4 miles west of Rapid City, near Schroeder Road. Authorities say there was no lightning in the area, which suggests the fire may be human-caused. Strong winds pushed the fire across an estimated 800 acres of private, state and federal land by Monday afternoon. 

Click here to watch the full story on YouTube.

South Dakota lawmakers introduce hundreds of bills during their annual legislative session in Pierre, and every bill is entitled to a public hearing. 

It’s a predictable and transparent system that South Dakotans have come to take for granted. 

But it wasn’t always that way. Five decades ago, the Capitol was a more closed-off place, until it was opened up by rule changes in the 1970s. 

Secret hearings and pocket vetoes


New research is out on how much logging to allow in the Black Hills National Forest, and the findings are already caught up in a debate over the future of the region’s timber industry.  

The leader of Sanford Health says he’s confident about continuing a relationship with the organization's philanthropic namesake, T. Denny Sanford. 


One of the athletes who joined Gov. Kristi Noem for a recent press conference faces insider-trading accusations. 

Jack Brewer is a retired NFL player. He played for the Minnesota Vikings and other teams.  

Brewer appeared virtually with the governor to support her new Title IX initiative.  

“I am so proud to stand with Governor Kristi Noem as she defends Title IX and defends girls’ sports as we know it,” Brewer said. 

Seth Tupper/SDPB

One hundred twenty people are out of work in Hill City, where a sawmill is closing down. 

Neiman Enterprises says it’s closing the facility after 53 years of operation. In a news release, the company blames the U.S. Forest Service for logging restrictions in the Black Hills. 

Company President Jim Neiman was not immediately available for an interview. In the news release, he said, “I never thought I would see the day when we would be out of options to keep all our facilities running.” 

The Forest Service did not respond to a request for comment. 

Courtesy Photo

A bill that affects transgender athletes could cost South Dakota millions of dollars in economic activity if it’s signed into law, according to an official who recruits major sporting events to the state.

Thomas Lee is the executive director of the Sioux Falls Sports Authority. He previously worked in North Carolina, where lawmakers passed a bill in 2016 dictating which bathrooms transgender people could use


federal government proposal to change the definition of a metropolitan area could affect cities nationwide, including one in South Dakota. 

The definition of a metropolitan area hasn’t changed for 71 years. It’s an urban area with at least 50,000 residents in the core city. 

Now the federal government wants to bump the threshold to 100,000 residents. 

Seth Tupper / SDPB

People looking for good news to celebrate found it Saturday in Rapid City as construction workers attached the final piece of steel onto a new arena. 

Summit Arena isn’t finished yet. Workers still have to complete the interior of the 11,000-seat structure.  

Credit Tyler Busch

In the lingo of South Dakota petition circulators, it’s called the “beach-towel effect.” 

The term describes the massive, folded-up sheets of paper that petition circulators carry as they gather signatures to put a proposed law on the ballot. 


All three members of South Dakota’s congressional delegation voted against the latest COVID relief bill. 

They say the $1.9 trillion legislation is too broad and expensive. 

Democrats passed the bill with no Republican support. The bill includes direct payments to many Americans, extended unemployment benefits, money for vaccine distribution and school re-openings, and other pandemic-related items. South Dakota state and local governments will get $1 billion. 


A company directly connected to a member of Gov. Kristi Noem’s cabinet received nearly $600,000 in coronavirus relief grants from the state, while additional companies registered to the cabinet member’s business associates received at least $3 million. 


Ballot questions in South Dakota need a simple majority to pass, but many legislators want a change: They’re asking voters to set a 60 percent threshold for some measures. 

The target is anything on a ballot that imposes or increases taxes. The measure would also apply any time the state is spending more than $10 million. 

Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, of Watertown, said it’s a defense against outside influence on ballot issues. 

Mineral Mountain Resources


A state board has awarded a water permit to a company looking for gold in the Black Hills.  

Mineral Mountain Resources has already drilled 49 holes for core samples. Many of those were near Keystone. The company has since moved its search north to the Rochford area.  

The drills need water for lubrication. The company has bought water from the city of Lead, and trucked it in 3,000-gallon tanks.  

Now the company plans to draw as much as 10 gallons per minute from a well near the drill sites.   

Seth Tupper/SDPB


A southern Black Hills compound inhabited by members of a polygamous religious sect was sold Thursday. 

The Custer County Sheriff’s Office conducted the sale at the county courthouse in Custer with about 40 people in attendance. 

The bidding started at $500,000 and ended at $750,000. Three former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were the winning bidders. 

Patrick Pipkin, of Utah, spoke for the group. 


Just when it looked like 40 orphaned natural-gas wells in northwestern South Dakota would finally be plugged, the story took a turn into the realm of cryptocurrency. 

A Texas company, Spyglass Cedar Creek, drilled the wells 15 years ago on the vast grasslands in the vicinity of Buffalo.  

S.D. Department of Public Safety

Police interrogation videos reveal new details about a fatal vehicle-pedestrian accident involving Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.  

Gov. Kristi Noem has asked Ravnsborg to resign, and the attorney general faces impeachment articles in the Legislature. 

The state Department of Public Safety released the videos Tuesday evening that show investigators interrogating Ravnsborg twice for a total of about three hours. Investigators from North Dakota conducted the interviews. 

Seth Tupper/SDPB


Optimism is high at a new Rapid City COVID-19 vaccination clinic, where Monument Health is vaccinating 900 people a day. 




A billionaire’s heir is the driving force behind a proposed $5 million Bison Interpretive Center at Custer State Park. 

Walter Panzirer is the grandson of the late East Coast developer Leona Helmsley. He’s also a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which has funded numerous projects in South Dakota.  

Last summer, Panzirer, a former Mitchell police officer who now lives in Pierre, was in Custer State Park with his wife and children when the inspiration for the interpretive center struck. 

Seth Tupper/SDPB


Last year was a good one for the only active, large-scale gold mine in the Black Hills. 

Chicago-based Coeur Mining owns five mines in North America. One is the Wharf Mine near Lead. 

The company recently reported its 2020 financial results. The Wharf Mine generated $72.5 million in “free cash flow,” which is a measure of profitability. It's the highest amount during Coeur’s ownership of the mine. 


The state House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would restrict the ability of conservation officers to enter private land.

Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration introduced the bill. It says officers from the Department of Game, Fish & Parks would need permission to go on private property.  

Joshua Haiar / SDPB

Lori Brandner said the trouble started while her sister was visiting.  

“I cut our visit short," Brandner said, "because my head hurt so bad.”  

Brandner was serving time at the Walworth County Jail. That’s in Selby, a town of less than 600 people in north-central South Dakota.   

SDPB / Joshua Haiar

A watchdog group says legislation presented by Gov. Kristi Noem as a nonprofit protection effort could hide political contributions. 

Noem sent her lawyer, Mark Miller, to testify on the bill during legislative committee hearings. 




After years of avoiding it, South Dakota is applying to a federal program that allows interstate shipments of state-inspected meat. 

The application is motivated by problems highlighted during the early days of the pandemic, when temporary shutdowns and slowdowns at packing plants made meat scarce in grocery stores. Consumers nationwide turned to small processors like local lockers, but in South Dakota, most of those local meat processors could not ship their meat to other states.  

Seth Tupper/SDPB


President Biden has revoked a permit for the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline, but some people along the pipeline route want to revive it.