Jackley holds economic round table at Redfield Energy as part of Hometown Initiative
By Shiloh Appel
On Thursday, April 5th, 2018, South Dakota Attorney General and candidate for Governor, Marty Jackley, visited Redfield as part of his Hometown South Dakota Initiative.
"My Hometown South Dakota Initiative is not about telling communities what they need to do better. Rather, it is about listening to communities and understanding what I can do as governor to help them grow and thrive," states Jackley in his Hometown Initiative description. After visiting about a dozen towns before arriving in Redfield, Jackley plans to continue visiting towns across South Dakota to hold economic round table discussions.
While in Redfield, Jackley held an economic discussion at Redfield Energy with Spink County leaders in attendance, including Mayor Jayme Akin; City Attorney, Vic Fischbach; Lisa Zens of Grow Spink; Chief Administrative Officer at Redfield Energy, Dana Lewis; City Financial Officer, Adam Hansen; Craig Oberle; Craig Johnson; CEO of the CMH Hospital, Mike O'Keefe; Richard Gallup and Toby Morris.
Jackley opened up the discussion by sharing a little bit about himself and his family. He is married to Angela, a nurse, and they have two children — a 14 year old son, Michael, and 11 year old daughter, Isabella.
"We have a farm out in the Vale irrigation district… My wife has a ranch in the area, too, so we are engaged in both crop and livestock. I am an electrical engineer. I went off to law school and I have been blessed to be your US Attorney and Attorney General. I've [been able] to learn a lot the last few months," said Jackley.
During the discussion, Jackley asked for input from the Spink County leaders on housing, workforce development, taxing opioids, and the general small-town economy.
"I think our situations is the same as most other communities in the Northeast part of the state. We struggle to maintain our workforce," said Mayor Jayme Akin. "We will advertise, but when we advertise, the advertisement is either going in the Aberdeen American News or locally. What we are doing is we are cannibalizing each other. We are taking a workforce from Huron or Aberdeen or Redfield and we need to reach out and got to the West Coast, East Coast, or wherever, because people will come here, and a lot of times they come here for reasons that aren't work-related or they will come here for pheasant hunting. Then they will say,'Wow, what a great state, I want to live here.' So then they will bring their family here.
We need to go out and bring those people into our state and not take from each other."
"What do you think about the education side…tying your tax dollars by saying to that kid you will get that scholarship, but you will have to come back [to work in town]?" said Jackley.
"…Nationwide, there is a shortage. Nursing, lab tech, and some of those extra techs. Those are some of the jobs that there are not a lot of bodies for. So, if we could start prepping them in high school with some curriculum that goes to their graduation credits then we can entice them to be more involved in healthcare…if we can entice them and get them hooked on early, I think those incentives are going to work. Everybody says they are going to leave their hometown. The vast majority of them end up coming back at some point. This is just that hook to get them back, whether it is a two year text-school or four year," said hospital CEO, Mike O'Keefe."For years, healthcare has done it with physicians and with mid-levels where they said 'we will pay for your medical school or your fellowships if you commit to coming back to this town.' Well, why not get them enticed as 16 or 17 year old kids?"
Jackley discussed high school and college preparation credits and what can be done to make them more affordable. He also introduced the idea of apprenticeships.
"That concept of partnering with private businesses, almost like the Build Dakota concept, but maybe even more …where you say, 'Look, as part of your education you are going to bring in an apprentice' …in law we call it clerks or interns," said Jackley. "But call them what you want…it is a workforce-education tied together."
The group went on to discuss financing and budgeting options before discussing what can be done to overcome housing problems that are prevalent across the state.
"I don't think we can build them as fast as they want to come into Redfield. I think that is deterring people from coming to Redfield, because there is no housing options. I can't tell you how many people come into my office on a monthly basis that want these homes and we just can't keep up with them," said Lisa Zens, of Grow Spink. "We sell them before they are built and they are all higher-end housing. That isn't hitting our workforce housing, which is a whole 'nother concept. We do need to sit down and look at what that looks like for the singe-parent family."
Dana Lewis also described her family's issues with finding housing over a number of years before finally building their own house.
Marty Jackley inquired whether or not the South Dakota Housing Authority has been of any help as of late. Zens and Johnson responded that the Housing Authority is often overwhelmed and not always available.
After the conversation turned to the need for daycare, attendees discussed what has been done in the past (the Little Lambs Daycare) and what could be done in the future.
After an hour meeting, the Jackley team prepared to leave for their next scheduled town. Jackley left each attendee with a Hometown Initiative printout.
"Our hometowns are the lifeblood of our state. They are the communities where we grew up, raised our children, and learned what it really means to be a South Dakotan. As we continue to strive for a new era of economic growth, I firmly believe that our Hometown South Daktoa Initiative is a step toward a brighter and more prosperous future," states Jackley.
Attendees enjoyed pie from Leo's Good food at the close of the meeting.