“We have the beauty of the Black Hills as a background, as well,” said Bryan Walker, executive director of the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).
Since 1980, SEDC has worked to create a business environment that welcomes new business, cultivates existing business and supports creative entrepreneurial opportunities.
The community has grown significantly, in part, due to SEDC’s efforts. The population of Spearfish increased more than 40 percent since 1990 from 10,342 to 14,660 residents in a 5-mile radius, with just over 20 percent of that growth occurring in the last decade alone.
The Spearfish labor market added more than 1,500 new jobs since 2000 as well, Walker said, which provides a direct economic impact of nearly $50 million annually. SEDC focuses on attracting and growing businesses of all sizes. “The average sized business in Spearfish is just over eight employees,” Walker said.
“In the last two or three years, most of the job growth that has occurred has been organic growth – existing businesses adding one, two or three people,” Walker said.
Those smaller growths often go unnoticed. Yet when Premier Bankcard opened a facility here in 2001, it was hard to miss. The company employed 600 people at its peak. But following federal regulatory changes in the credit card industry, Premier retracted its workforce and ultimately closed its Spearfish location in 2011. It was one of the community’s top five employers at the time.
“It was devastating to see Premier Bankcard go, not only because they were a great company that employed a lot of people,” Walker said, “but also because their philosophy is to give back to the community.”
Premier continued with its “give back” philosophy even during and after the closure. The company donated its building to the City of Spearfish and even helped identify a potential new occupant and employer for the area in TMone. They also continue to donate a large amount to United Way of the Northern Hills, benefiting many non-profit service based organizations through United Way’s grant program.
“It was a $4 million gift to the city,” Walker said. “But more importantly, it gave the community control of the space.”
Thanks to Premier’s lead, TMone, one of the nation’s fastest growing business process outsourcing call center companies, moved into the building within six months of the Premier closure. By the end of 2012 and within just one year of opening in Spearfish, TMone had ramped up its employment to about 300 – the same level as Premier at the time of its closure.
Attracting a new occupant so quickly has resulted in a total payroll of more than $4.5 million staying in the area, Walker said. “Most employee income filters through the community 2.5 times.”
Spearfish was chosen in 2008 as one of the original four sites for the Dakota Rising Fellowship program through the statewide initiative, Dakota Resources, which focuses on rural development. Businesses that have been in operation for at least one year are eligible to apply for the program, which includes a $10,000 grant and provides peer-to-peer networking and advising.
“In four years, we have had 10 businesses which have been awarded grants here in the community,” Walker said.
The Spearfish site for the 3-year program is expanding, making all businesses in Lawrence County eligible to apply in 2013 and beyond.
Things continue to look positive for Spearfish. Besides population and job growth, wages have also increased. The average household income increased 16 percent last year from $50,187 in 2011 to $58,367 at the end of 2012.
Construction hit its peak here in 2006 and 2007. But after several down years, the number of building permits issued in 2012 was up significantly over 2011. “We’ve seen a very strong rebound in residential construction here in Spearfish,” Walker said. The number of residential building permits issued more than doubled to 82 in 2012 from just 40 in 2011.
Compared to similar-sized communities throughout the region, Spearfish has historically enjoyed a healthy and robust market within new residential construction, he said. And that trend is continuing.
Commercial construction, which had remained relatively steady over the last couple years, increased in 2012, as well. There were 12 commercial building permits issued in 2012 compared to only eight in 2011, a 33 percent increase.
Working with state and local partners, Spearfish Economic Development Corporation has the capacity to provide custom incentive proposals to qualified businesses seeking to expand or relocate. Economic development programs include low interest finance programs, workforce development grants, property tax abatements and reduced cost, shovel-ready sites located in the Spearfish Business and Industry Park.
To learn more about our area’s premier business climate, superior lifestyle and, more importantly, how your business can increase its bottom line, please call SEDC at 605-642-3832 or visit www.SpearfishDevelopment.com.
The three largest employment sectors in Spearfish are Hospital Services (1,214), followed by Retail Sales (1,160) and Health Care Services (1,156).
Industries in Spearfish which have experienced the greatest percentage of new job growth since 2000 include Financial Activities (57%), Health Care (44%) and Business Professional Services (41%).