Here's the most positive spin I can shine on the failure of Governor Daugaard's job recruitment initiative: when Denny makes a mistake, he at least has the good sense to admit it and change course. Sometimes.

In 2012, Governor Dennis Daugaard gave Wisconsin-based recruiter Manpower an exclusive five-million-dollar contract to help labor-strapped South Dakota businesses fill jobs. The goal was to place 1,000 new workers in critical, well-paying fields. Last May we learned that, one year in, Manpower was falling well short of the Governor's goals. That failure prompted the Governor to tweak the program and remove the favoritism to Manpower.

Now David Montgomery follows up to inform us that the Governor's "New South Dakotans" initiative has been such a flop that Daugaard is asking that we stop wasting money on it:

As of this week, when Daugaard told lawmakers he would sharply scale back the program, only a few more than 100 employees had come to South Dakota, at a cost to taxpayers of about $1 million.

The failure of New South Dakotans to meet its goals reflected lack of interest from both employers and employees. In a year and a half, only 452 jobs were listed through New South Dakotans — and many of those were companies seeking multiple hires. Most of those went unfilled, with only 95 workers so far coming to the state and sticking around for the four months required for the state to pay up [David Montgomery, "Initiative to Recruit S.D. Jobs Fizzles," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.12.07].

Five million appropriated, one million wasted... golly, the remainder could come close to covering the administrative costs for expanding Medicaid for 49,000 South Dakotans. Any chance Governor Daugaard will continue to recognize his errors and reverse his resistance to doing real good with Medicaid for South Dakotans in need?

Let's not get too optimistic. Team Daugaard is still having trouble internalizing the lessons of the Manpower recruitment failure. They discovered that interstate worker migration is going down, despite the state's hopes that tough economic conditions might motivate more migration to South Dakota. They heard from Trail King in Mitchell (which accounted for 65 of New South Dakotans' 95 lasting hires) that a noticeable number of workers came to South Dakota for apparently stopgap employment, putting in time to pay the bills until a better job opened up back home. Other workers bailed when they met South Dakota winter. Yet Daugaard policy advisor Kim Olson seems to think the only big mistake the state made was incurring bad press with an exclusive contract:

Olson said if state officials were designing the program again, they would open it up to multiple recruiters instead of starting out with an exclusive partner. But she would do it again.

“I feel really strongly that yes, it was worth it,” Olson said. “We need to be doing something to change our demographic landscape,” she said. “We need to be recruiting more people here” [Montgomery, 2013.12.07].

Wishing won't make it so, Kim. And the most careful PR won't raise the temperature thirty degrees on December 8.

p.s.: Governor Daugaard is asking for half a million dollars in his FY 2015 budget for job promotion and recruiting. Legislators, why not make him get that money from Northern Beef Packers and Joop Bollen?