Let’s dive in for
a closer look
at what makes
South Dakota, and
the Sioux Falls
area specifically, a
top contender in
For many Americans, South Dakota likely conjures images of vast, open, countryside. With a population of just over 800,000 according to the 2012
United States census, that stereotype isn’t
But when you arrive in Sioux Falls, you
forget you are in one of the country’s least
populous states. The metro area holds almost
one-third of all South Dakotans, and the population has increased by 22 percent since 2000.
Overall, it’s a charming little city with a surprising amount to offer. But what’s fueling this
gem in the middle of the plains? From what
many surveys, reports, CEOs and residents
alike are saying, it’s the strong business climate
and ever-diversifying manufacturing sector.
Last year, CNBC’s Scott Cohn named South
Dakota the 2013 Top State for Business. Not
only did South Dakota win the honor, but it
logged the highest score a state has received
since CNBC began the ranking in 2007, winning by a landslide. The ranking compares
more than 50 metrics in ten categories of
competitiveness. South Dakota took home the
win because of its low cost of business, quality
of life and state tax incentives.
The most distinguishing characteristic of
South Dakota’s tax structure is the absence of
corporate or personal state income taxes. This
translates to lower wages for the same quality
of life, and higher gross incomes for manufacturers. The only real problem for the state?
The unemployment rate is too low, at just four
But how did South Dakota get here? Let’s
dive in for a closer look at what makes this
state, and the Sioux Falls area specifically, a
top contender in the manufacturing industry.
A Brief History
In the early stages of industrialization
of the northern plains area, much of the
opportunities were in agriculture, mining
and meat packing. In 1954, the Sioux Falls
Development Foundation was created and
continued to grow for the coming decades.
The organization was able to attract the United
States Geological Survey’s Earth Resources
Observation and Science (EROS) Center,
which brought with it researchers, scientists
and a new focus on technology.
“That was a big deal for this community,”
explains Slater Barr, President and CEO of
the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “It
made this small, northern Midwestern town
believe that they could go after big projects
By securing the EROS Center, Sioux Falls
started down the path of industrial park devel-
opment. Today, the community is home to
eight industrial parks that employ more than
According to Barr, there are four things that
set the Sioux Falls economy apart from any
other city. He argues that the following categories make Sioux Falls not only attractive as a
place to work, but also to live.
Marmen Energy makes wind towers that stand 250 feet tall. Each tower is built in three segments and
assembled on site.