This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

Simplified: The Sioux Metro Growth Alliance's second annual Grow Smarter conference brought dozens of people together to talk about economic development and preparing for growth in the Sioux metro.

Why it matters

  • As Sioux Falls grows, so too do the communities in the metro.
  • The Grow Smarter conference held earlier this month gave city leaders, school officials and developers a space to talk about growth, workforce needs, economic development and infrastructure.
  • One of the most invaluable aspects of the conference was the networking, said Lori Heumiller, finance officer for the city of Salem.
"It is always a hope to come away from a conference with new ideas and inspiration to keep working towards a goal, and this conference didn’t disappoint," Heumiller said.

What are some key takeaways from the conference?

Sioux Metro Growth Alliance President and CEO Jesse Fonkert shared the following takeaways:

  • Workforce is huge. Preparing a future workforce will mean connecting businesses with schools and thinking about what future jobs will look like and how kids can gain those skills now to prepare them.
  • We need to think about water. One conference speaker was Troy Larson, executive director of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, and Fonkert said it was important to see the need to look at future water supply in South Dakota.
"We've got to be focusing on investing in ourselves to make sure we can continue to meet the needs of a growing region and state," Fonkert said.
  • Developers and planners should work together. Long-term planning for cities can go hand-in-hand with economic development, especially when looking at redevelopment, Fonkert said.
  • Connections matter. As Heumiller said, networking is a big goal, and the conference created a space for private developers to chat with public officials about potential projects and partnerships.
"All together, it was a chance for both the private sector and the public sector to come together and create those meaningful relationships that help make projects happen," Fonkert said.

What happens next?

The Grow Smarter conference is expected to be an annual event.

Fonkert said he welcomes feedback as the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance works to refine and improve the format.

He's also looking to host the conference in different member communities each year. Stay tuned for more details to come about next year's conference.