Hartford experiencing record-breaking year

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

Have you been to Hartford lately?

If not, images like carefully crafted coffee, a popular golf course and a handmade boutique probably don’t pop to mind.

Jesse Fonkert

Jesse Fonkert knows otherwise.

As the chamber and economic development director for the city that’s just a short drive northwest of Sioux Falls, he has plenty of new activity to promote – from improvements at Central Valley Golf Course to new shops and restaurants.  And things might be just getting started.

How are things going in Hartford? It seems like there’s a lot of momentum there.

Hartford is having a record-breaking year. Building permits are up from this time last year, and sales tax revenue is exceeding expectations. At this point, Hartford will add 70 new multifamily units by the end of 2017. New businesses like Stomping Grounds and Knotty Gnome Variety & Salvage are opening in town, and many existing businesses are looking at expanding in the near future. We think we’re at the beginning of a real explosion of housing growth and commercial development.

What do you think people might be surprised to learn what’s happening in the community?

A number of things that even surprise me! Average household income has continued to rise year after year and is currently sitting at $75,330, according to our 2016 ESRI study. Folks are continuing to move to town, and the housing market is tight. Within the past few days, a house went under contract after less than a week on the market. Most importantly, our quality of life continues to rise in Hartford. We’re fortunate enough to have an eye clinic, dental clinic, general health clinic, chiropractor, locally owned pharmacy and multiple wellness centers all in Hartford. Our already exceptional park system improves every year with new facilities and programming. In 2017, Hartford celebrated its 25th straight year of being a designated Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Perennial powerhouse West Central continues to offer an outstanding education and large-school opportunities for area youth. West Central School District was recently recognized as an Apple Distinguished program, a testament to its commitment to the advancement of its students. Life is good in Hartford, and it gets better with each passing day.

Knotty Gnome Variety & Salvage opened in Hartford in 2016.

How would you describe the balance between new housing and commercial growth? Are you seeing more of one or the other?

In 2016 and 2017, we’ve seen a large increase in housing growth, especially in multifamily housing. That being said, we’ve also seen an expansion in the different business offerings in town, which have come with new commercial buildings. A local entrepreneur has built a mixed-used building along Central Valley Golf Course that houses apartments, a gym, a law office and a coffee shop. Central States Manufacturing, which manufactures steel siding and roofing components, underwent an expansion and remodel in 2016, reflecting the growth the company has been experiencing in the Midwest. We think that we’ll see an increase in commercial and light-industrial growth in the next year or so based on the conversations we’ve been having with entrepreneurs, prospects and local business owners.

What’s next for the community? Are you working on any projects that are coming together this year?

The City Council recently voted to move forward with completing Mickelson Road, an east-west arterial street that will connect Hartford from Highway 38 to Western Avenue. Mickelson Road will be a $5 million, two-year infrastructure project that will allow the development of new commercial and residential lots. Due to work being completed on Mickelson Road, more than 200 larger-sized lots will be brought to market with Turtle Creek Highlands and the next phase of Kelly Point coming online.

Central Valley Golf Course in Hartford just opened a new clubhouse.

What additional types of businesses would you like to see open in town?

Hartford residents keep asking me when the next fast-food option is coming to town. Many folks think that a quick-service restaurant would perform well with Hartford’s strategic location along I-90, our growing population and the needs of West Central High School students and visitors. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5,000 people live in the Hartford ZIP code, which leads us to believe that a QSR should be looking at expanding to Hartford. More young families are moving to town, and with them, their retired parents. This has created a market for two things: more day-care options and more retirement housing. We would also welcome any distribution centers, advanced manufactures and ag equipment sellers. Being located less than 10 minutes west of Sioux Falls along I-90 would have many strategic benefits for those businesses.

Describe Hartford in three words.

Progressive, welcoming and motivated.

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Hartford experiencing record-breaking year

Have you been to Hartford lately? If not, images like carefully crafted coffee, a popular golf course and a handmade boutique probably don’t pop to mind.

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