Happy Friday! Megan here.

Weather check: Kinda rainy/snowy today, but a warm weekend

This weekend, I've got a look at new stuff happening at REACH Literacy, how City Council candidates are spending money, growth in the region, nonprofit branding and some Super Simplified Stories to top it all off.

And now, news:


It's a big year for Reach Literacy. Here's why.

Simplified: REACH Literacy, a nonprofit focused on improving literacy for both adults and children, has a new leader, new classroom space, a fundraiser event this month and some big plans for 2024.

Why it matters

  • Molly O'Connor started in January as the nonprofit's new executive director. She previously worked as a graphic designer at Lemonly and has a background in English.
  • Meanwhile, REACH recently expanded its location at the Western Mall to include an additional 3,000 square feet of classroom, bookstore and office space.
  • O'Connor said she's coming into her new position with a strong focus on accessibility, and it'll start with more research into the literacy needs to figure out how to better reach more people and particularly to provide more industry-specific tutoring.
"When English is your first language, and you learn to read as a child, literacy is like breathing," O'Connor said. "You don't think about it. (Without literacy, you're unable) to be able to make health care decisions for your family, to vote, to get a drivers license, to navigate the day-to-day-world."

Tell me more about Reach


How a highly visible brand is helping the Boys & Girls Clubs

This is a paid piece from Panther Premier Print Solutions.

Simplified: The team at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire see their brand as a way to showcase the impact they have on children in the community. And with the help of Panther Premier Print Solutions, they've found an easy way to get their logo and brand designs printed on anything they need.

Why it matters

  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire serves 1500 kids in the region, with programs for kids as young as 4 weeks old all the way to age 18.
  • All nonprofit employees are required to wear clothes with the organization's brand, and in the past with other vendors, those branded shirts and other articles of clothing could take weeks or months to get delivered. Now, working with Panther, they know any new orders will be quickly fulfilled, and the nonprofit even keeps a regular stock of popular logo-wear on hand.
  • The working relationship started with apparel, but Panther now helps the Boys & Girls Clubs with all kinds of services from event signage to branded employee gifts to updated branding for the nonprofit's administrative offices.
"Whether people are coming to an event or picking up a flyer, our brand is something they can recognize and trust," said Lexie Feterl. "No one serves as wide of a range of kids as we do, and showcasing our brand helps tell that story to the community."

Tell me more about the services Panther offers


Super Simplified Stories

  • Calling all youths. High school juniors and seniors have until March 31 to apply to be on the Mayor's Youth Council. Meetings are held monthly during the school year, and you can find more details and how to apply here.
  • That's a wrap on Pierre. South Dakota's legislative session ended Thursday as lawmakers approved a $7.3 billion budget. They'll circle back again later this month for "Veto Day" to take action on any bills Gov. Kristi Noem vetoes between now and then. South Dakota Searchlight has a budget breakdown for you here.


What did growth look like in the metro area last year?

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

Simplified: It's no secret the Sioux Metro area is growing, but a look at building permit statistics from 2023 really puts that growth into perspective. Outside of the City of Sioux Falls, communities in the region issued permits for a combined more than $320 million in projects.

man in yellow shirt and blue denim jeans jumping on brown wooden railings under blue and
Photo by Josh Olalde / Unsplash

Why it matters

  • Five communities – Baltic, Brandon, Crooks, Harrisburg and Hartford – saw more than $10 million in building permit valuation last year, with the strongest growth in Harrisburg at more than $65 million in permitted projects. And Tea set a record with its first-ever nine-figure year.
  • For context, the City of Sioux Falls issued $1.1 billion in building permit valuation in 2023, down from a record $1.9 billion the year prior – which included permits for some major downtown projects.
  • And while many communities saw a decrease in permit valuations as rising costs make development trickier, Tea actually saw an increase year-over-year. The city broke a permit record with more than $105.8 million.
"Tea is also in a position in the next few years where we become a place where it's not just local people supporting local businesses, but more of a regional hub," City Administrator Justin Weiland said. "We are beginning to attract people to the community to come here, stay here and spend their money in our community."

Tell me more about growth in Tea


Here's how City Council candidates are spending their campaign funds

Simplified: Sioux Falls City Council candidates spent anywhere from $11 to more than $2,000 since the last campaign finance reports were filed in early January. But the total money raised by the eight candidates vying for four open seats has surpassed $60,000.

1 U.S.A dollar banknotes
Photo by Alexander Grey / Unsplash

Why it matters

  • Campaign finance reports let us know both where candidates are getting money from and how they're spending it. It's a way to add transparency to the election process by requiring candidates to track where money is coming and going.
  • The reports filed earlier this week show a few candidates who are primarily funding their own campaigns – like Neil Jeske, Allison Renville and David Zokaites, and a couple outliers who've raised more than $10,000 – like Richard Thomason and the unopposed southwest district candidate Ryan Spellerberg.
  • Spending money doesn't guarantee a candidate a seat on the council, obviously. That's why we vote. But those with more funds are in a position to get their name and messaging in front of more voters ahead of the April 9 election.

Ok, so show me the receipts


What I'm falling for this weekend:


More Simplified Stories

Why fifth graders collected more than 33,000 diapers
The goal? 5,000 diapers donated to the Teddy Bear Den. The actual result? More than 33,000 diapers.
How street outreach has helped dozens find help
The team at South Dakota Urban Indian Health has done nearly 1,300 hours of direct outreach in the city since August.
Stuff to do: March 6-12
From a big band dance to a big basketball tournament, here’s a look at what’s going on in Sioux Falls this week.


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Reach out

What story do you want to see simplified? Falling for something local? Send any news tips, attaboys, missed typos or strong coffee to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including Dakota Adventure Supply, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Panther Premier Print Solutions, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Barre3 Sioux Falls, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, and the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.