Mobridge economy is consistent, healthy
By Stuart Hughes
The city of Mobridge is experiencing consistent and healthy economic growth, with infrastructure improvement and private sector growth outpacing previous years by a wide margin.
In the current year, 67 building permits have been issued to the private and public sectors. This growth is the highest for the city in at least 10 years with current permits issued totaling more than $3 million. Among them are major projects on Grand Crossing and updates to outdated city infrastructure. The majority of the projects are scheduled for completion this year, or in early 2013.
Some of the permits were issued to make upgrades to city infrastructure and are already in progress. Among them are the long awaited A.H. Brown library addition and extension of Main Street to the river. According to city administrator Steve Gasser, the Main Street crossing is scheduled to be completed by the end of this summer or early fall and the project is progressing despite the many agencies involved in the project. Several entities have a stake in the project, and this explains seemingly slow progress until now.
“The reason it took so long is we’re dealing with the railroads, city government, state government and the federal government. All of them are involved in the project and there was a lot of planning that needed to be done before we could progress. But we’re moving past that and on to construction,” said Gasser.
Gasser also said water and waste systems could also be upgraded if funding is secured. Improvements to parts of the city water and waste systems are under consideration by state government officials and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources committee. According to Gasser funding is being sought to update these systems that include the water tower and sewer systems on Second Avenue West and he said the city will have an answer from officials regarding funding this month.
Even with the increased municipal spending, said mayor Jamie Dietterle, Mobridge is living within its budgetary means.
“Economically we’re doing very well. We’re within our budget, and the council men and women are being vigilant and planning for the future,” said Deitterle. “We’re moving in a positive direction and with the infrastructure currently being upgraded, we’re prepared for more people to move to Mobridge.”
With positive movement in the public sectors comes growth in the private sector. Private sector growth is higher this year than in the previous 10 years. Scheduled to be completed in the coming weeks is a strip mall on Grand Crossing. Owner Kenny Jensen said the first tenant of the three, Family Hair Care, is currently relocating to the strip mall. Subway will occupy the second storefront and will open this summer. The third space, said Jensen, is available for lease. According to Jensen, the building project in Mobridge is the result of a desire to see Mobridge grow and prosper from the businesses it houses. “Mobridge needed something like this,” said Jensen. “And things just came together for it to happen. We wanted to help the community and keep business local.”
Other major construction includes an addition to the supply business Runnings Farm and Fleet. The expansion will add on more than 16,000 square feet to the building and is scheduled to be completed late this year. According to Runnings Public Relations director Dennis Jensen, the expansion will be used to expand selection and improve availability of products.
Jensen said Mobridge offers a solid customer and is an ideal area for expansion. “There is a tremendous amount of community support in Mobridge.” Said Jensen. “We saw a need for expansion and we wanted to meet customer demand.”
All of this growth has created envious statistics in Mobridge for any town its size. According to the Walworth county assessors office, the assessed value of Mobridge has increased more than 13 million dollars since 2008.
Christine Martin Goldsmith, of the Mobridge Economic Development Corporation, or MEDCO, said part of the reason for increased growth is movement on infrastructure projects. “There have been a lot of businesses that wanted Mobridge to update its infrastructure first before they would consider Mobridge.” Said Martin Goldsmith. “Now that we’re seeing movement I think it will make Mobridge a more attractive option for businesses.”
MEDCO may also provide answers to those scratching their heads at the growth shown in Mobridg’s economy. Mobridge has been faced with an out-migration of population since the 1970s. Part of what MEDCO does, said Martin Goldsmith, is provide businesses an incentive to grow and eventually foster the economy enough to stem that out-migration. MEDCO provides a host of assistance programs to existing businesses and helps to recruits potential business owners in Mobridge. MEDCO also actively recruits out of state businesses.
MEDCO president Bruce Brekke said the mission of the non-profit is to help Mobridge’s existing businesses grow while attracting new businesses. “We actively look to attract business to Mobridge, but helping existing businesses grow is also essential to Mobridge,” said Brekke.
He said MEDCO takes an approach to community business development called “community gardening,” where bolstering existing local businesses economically is thought to be the key to small town growth. Part of this “gardening” is a revolving loan fund available to many local businesses. First made available to Main Street businesses and now Grand Crossing businesses, the revolving loan fund is available to any business that want to grow, but needs financial assistance. MEDCO offers low interest financing to businesses who apply for a loan. Lending is anonymous, but according to MEDCO, many businesses have take advantage of the loan fund.
The loans are anonymous, but according to MEDCO, many businesses have taken advantage of the low interest financing.
“We offer gap funding for businesses. We encourage the businesses to go to the banks first, and secure what they can. After that, if they need funding to make up the difference we offer it to them at very low interest,” said Brekke.
MEDCO is currently looking to recruit outdoor products manufacturers and firearms companies to relocate to Mobridge. Brekke said South Dakota’s firearm friendly laws, and Mobridge’s ideal location on the river make it advantageous to companies who produce outdoors products.
One area, said Mayor Dietterle, to look for development in the future is the lake front property soon to be connected to Main street at the completion of the crossing project.
“Nothing is set in stone, we’re trying to find the right fit for our community,” said Deitterle “But it could be restaurants, or a hotel, or more housing. The sky’s the limit for that area. We’re open to possibilities, and will work with someone who has a vision for that land.”
– Stuart Hughes –