Lawrence McKinney
Elevate Rapid City
605-343-1744 (o)
386.316.0300 (m)

Business Leaders Launch
Five-year Strategy and Capital Campaign  

New public-private partnership seeks
elevated level of growth and prosperity

RAPID CITY, SD. (April 10, 2018) – Four leading business organizations, under the banner Elevate Rapid City, announced a new five-year economic development campaign today focused on $300 million in new business investment; retention and expansion of Ellsworth Airforce Base; workforce development and talent attraction; and entrepreneurship and innovation to continue to grow the region’s economy.

For more than a year, the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, Ellsworth Development Authority, and Economic Development Foundation have been vetting a $4.25 million private-sector driven initiative.  Elevate Rapid City celebrated the public kick-off today with the announcement that more than two dozen investors have already pledged $3.045 million, or 72 percent of the $4.25 million public-private goal.

In a presentation at the new headquarters of Black Hills Corporation, the public-private partnership, which includes Rapid City and nearly 300 businesses, outlined its plan to focus on attracting talent, engaging regional leadership, promoting the Black Hills, inviting strategic investments, expanding marketing initiatives, and stimulating development to help Rapid City as well as regional communities and businesses compete and thrive.

“Elevate Rapid City is a comprehensive approach to lifting all of our citizens and businesses up.  Rather than being content to wait for what comes our way, we are determined to choose our own path for economic success. In business we set goals, measure our progress and hold ourselves accountable to achieving results.  Data driven decision making will be the cornerstone of how, what and why we attract new jobs to Rapid City,” said Elevate Rapid City Co-Chairman David Emery, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Black Hills Corporation.

“As the second largest city in the state, and one which we consider the crown jewel of South Dakota, it’s imperative that we have a strategy led by the private sector but in partnership with the public sector.  For the first time in our storied history, we have four of our leading business organizations working collaboratively and eliminating duplication to ensure success,” said campaign co-chairman Jim Scull, Chairman of Scull Construction.

“Elevate Rapid City will leverage the resources of these organizations, in conjunction with our own, to expand the regional growth strategy.  We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to lobby Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson for the new B-21 and we must not squander it.  The new innovation district will create opportunities for local start-ups that are disrupting industries as we speak.  Of course workforce development and talent attraction will be critical to filling existing job openings and the new jobs we intend to attract,” added co-chair David Lust, Partner with Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson and Ashmore.

“In this globally competitive economy if we aren’t innovating we are falling behind. The next five years will be critical to shaping Rapid City and our region,” said Pat Burchill, Chairman of the Ellsworth Development Authority. “Ellsworth is uniquely positioned for the B-21 given the great progress we made expanding the Powder River Training Area, however we can’t rest on our laurels or be complacent.  Other communities would like the B-21 too.”

Elevate Rapid City used a strategic planning process in 2017, facilitated by Tom Ralser of Convergent Outcomes Lab, to assess the region’s competitive position and match its program of work to the opportunities and challenges of a competitive, global economy. Business and government leaders helped to build the plan and then it was vetted through more than 75 confidential one on one interviews with community leaders. As a result of that work, Elevate Rapid City has identified four focus areas through 2022:

  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Building a new incubator, focusing on start-ups and current employers, partnering with area colleges, universities, and the Sanford Underground Research Facility, this strategy compliments the Rapid City self-sufficient culture of “growing our own”.
  • Ellsworth Airforce Base. Keeping the base off any future Base Realignment and Closure lists is the most critical goal but expanding it to include other missions is the timeliest initiative as the window opens and closes with each new Washington DC administration.
  • Workforce Development and Talent Attraction. Focusing on the K-16 pipeline of workers, in conjunction with area education institutions, as well as creating a dedicated talent attraction program that builds upon the region’s livability and connects with local college students.
  • Creating 4,755 new jobs and $300 million in new business investment. Strengthening the competitive position, targeting the businesses that can thrive here, reenergizing Rapid City as destination for business and talent. Using regional data compiled during the 2014 Black Hills Vision Study and the City’s Comprehensive Plan as a blueprint, leaders will recruit 2245 primary, wealth creating jobs in Healthcare, Life Sciences/Research, Manufacturing, Financial Services and Energy. These jobs will attract an additional 2,510 secondary support service jobs.

Convergent Nonprofit Solutions is managing the capital campaign with Lawrence and Elizabeth McKinney continuing to present investment opportunities to individuals and businesses throughout the region over the next several months. They anticipate reaching the $4.25 million goal, or more, and concluding the campaign this July.  Only by Investing, Empowering, and Improving will we Elevate the entire community of Rapid City.