Economic developer: ‘It should be a very exciting spring’

This piece is presented by the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association.

From industrial projects to residential building, the communities of Minnehaha County are expecting solid growth this spring.

Image of Dennis Olson

Dennis Olson

Dennis Olson, secretary-treasurer of the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association, also is the assistant city administrator for Brandon. He recently gave us his sense of the development landscape.

What’s the mood in Minnehaha County communities this spring? What kind of activity are you sensing?

This spring will be very exciting in Minnehaha County. The economy looks strong to company management, and they are ready to expand. MCEDA is in the middle of many new projects. Their success is led by strong local leadership in member communities. MCEDA is the third leg of the three-legged stool. They provide expertise and professionalism to the economic development process. Their role is different to different communities. Hartford has many projects going, both residential and industrial. Dell Rapids has purchased industrial land and has an option on adjacent property. They have clients moving in and many inquirers. Baltic is still very active in residential housing. They want families to move to town and bring students to their school.  Brandon has just purchased an 80-acre site that is accessible to rail. Should be a very exciting spring.

Housing has been noticeably increasing in the communities of Minnehaha County. What’s your sense of why people are starting to seek out these areas for their homes?

I think the small rural community is part of the traditional South Dakota life.  Most residents work in Sioux Falls but would rather live in a smaller community. Some come for the more affordable housing, some for the smaller schools and some for a less-complicated lifestyle. They enjoy the small-town atmosphere, but also they want to enjoy the amenities of a nearby big city.

Brandon recently broke ground for another industrial park. What other activity are you expecting in your community this spring?

We have recently purchased 80 acres, expanding our north industrial parks. The new land has rail accessibility to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad with delivery every day. This is a tremendous opportunity. Rail property is slower to develop but generally provides larger businesses and better employment. Only about half of the new purchase will have rail access. That leaves about 45 acres of non-rail land, which is good because in our existing parks we have recently sold five lots, have purchase agreements on two more and a right-of-first refusal on four more. That’s quite a break from the last two or three years. I don’t know what is fueling this activity, but clearly business owners are ready to move forward.

New development park opens opportunities for Brandon

What’s it like trying to get residents to engage in their local governments? Are you finding people will to serve on councils and boards in these growing communities?

It is a battle. We have 10,000 people in town and had a seat up for City Council. Only one person turned in a petition. Even the incumbent didn’t run. So it is difficult. When things are going well, people don’t feel they need to participate. Until you have issues or some controversy, they become very passive.

If businesses would like to become more involved in the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association, what should they do?

We have cities, utilities, banks and some service providers that are involved in MCEDA. They are large financial contributors and have a seat on our board of directors. We also have an associate membership that allows smaller groups like engineers, contractors and Realtors to join. This is a much smaller financial obligation, and it does not include a board seat, but it is a good opportunity to keep up with what’s going on in the area and get connected with potential clients. Anyone who is interested can contact our executive director, Nick Fosheim, at

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Economic developer: ‘It should be a very exciting spring’

From industrial projects to residential building, the communities of Minnehaha County are expecting solid growth this spring.

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