The headline Friday was "Workforce Dollars Bypass Sioux Falls." Steve Young wrote in that Sioux Falls paper that "Sioux Falls was just handed a big goose egg" by the state Workforce Development Council, which rejected an application from economic development group Forward Sioux Falls to spend $56,433 in state money to give consultants a few days' work sitting around thinking up ideas for workforce development.

But Sioux Falls was not completely snubbed. Among the fourteen Community Incentive Matching Grants recently approved by the state is $50,000 to the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota. The AGC plans to spend $100K total implementing a manufacturing apprenticeship curriculum and deploying three mobile training labs for advanced manufacturing, carpentry, and welding. The AGC will use these labs at middle schools, high schools, job fairs, and even at work sites with apprentices to develop the next generation of workers to replace the workers who are aging out of South Dakota's workforce or heading elsewhere for higher wages.

The full list of partners makes clear this project is meant to serve the Sioux Falls area:

Business (listed alphabetically)

  • Associated General Contractors of South Dakota – Sioux Falls, SD
  • Beck & Hofer Construction – Sioux Falls, SD
  • DeGeest Steel Works – Tea, SD
  • Friessen Construction – Sioux Falls, SD
  • Hjellming Construction – Sioux Falls, SD
  • Home Builders Association of the Sioux Empire – Sioux Falls, SD
  • Journey Group (aka Sioux Falls Construction) – Sioux Falls, SD
  • Raven Industries – Sioux Falls, SD
  • Showplace Wood Products – Harrisburg, SD

Education (listed alphabetically)

  • Mitchell Technical Institute, Architectural Design and Building Construction – Mitchell, SD—Provided tool list for carpentry mobile training lab.
  • Sioux Falls Career and Technical Education Academy – Sioux Falls, SD—Provided tool list for welding fabrication mobile training lab.
  • Southeast Technical Institute – Sioux Falls, SD—Provided input on apprenticeship training model and mobile training lab concept.

Government (listed alphabetically)

  • Department of Labor, Sioux Falls Local Office – Sioux Falls, SD—Participated in several Sioux Empire Workforce Development Coalition meetings and provided input on development of proposal.
  • Sioux Falls Community Development – Sioux Falls, SD—Participated in brainstorming session with AGC and HBASE to draw out and develop workforce development ideas that would benefit Sioux Falls area contractors. Also, provided insight into community collaboration and proposal formation [Associated General Contractors of South Dakota, Community Incentive Matching Program grant application, November 2014].

Sioux Falls boosters should probably tone down any talk of goose eggs and snubs. The AGC and other partners in local business, education, and government just landed the city a fair share of state workforce development dollars with a practical, hands-on plan to train and recruit workers.

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That Sioux Falls paper features this piping-hot appetizer showing Sanaa Abourezk turning her 8th Street Gourmet into Coyote Ugly:

Come dance, come eat—what more could Sioux Falls need to recruit workers?

And Jim Abourezk, how do you ever concentrate?

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Sixteen groups applied last November for workforce development grants from the South Dakota Workforce Initiative. The Workforce Development Council rejected just two of those applications: Madison's and Sioux Falls's.

I'm willing to bet that the council rejected Madison's just because it was Darin Namken pitching new online banners with slogans and logos as underwhelming as the old ones his people came up with. Madison's application was just pork to pay Namken's people $5,000 to fiddle with search engines and post vacuous comments to social media. The application says Madison has a housing shortage, a problem the proposed marketing program does nothing to fix, but then goes on to say that Madison already has successful programs in place to recruit workers. I skim the application and see no compelling case to hand Namken's company more free public dollars.

Madison's plan was weak, but at least they offered a plan. Sioux Falls got rejected, apparently because they wanted state money to pay for thinking about a plan. Forward Sioux Falls applied for $56,433 to pay a third of the cost for having consultants help them develop a workforce development plan. (What? People can get paid six figures just for sitting around helping people think? I do that job in the classroom all the time, and I never get six figures for a gig! I need to rebrand: I'm not a teacher; I'm a brainforce development consultant.)

And let's get real: Sioux Falls needs the least assistance developing its workforce. Almost every other town in this state loses workers to Sioux Falls, because Sioux Falls, in the South Dakota scheme of things, has almost everything. Their application and their own woe-is-us reaction to the state's rejection in today's paper state that Sioux Falls has growing and diverse industries. Its population is growing at nearly twice the state rate. The city offers more opportunities, more people, and more money. In an environment like that, the workforce pretty much develops itself.

The proper role of government is to help along those worthy projects that aren't happening on their own. Madison already has the tools it needs to Tweet job openings. Sioux Falls already has the economic and cultural attraction to build its workforce. The state can justify focusing its meager workforce development resources elsewhere.

You can peruse the fourteen winning applications here and see how Aberdeen, DeSmet, the Associated General contractors, and eleven other organizations snagged their pieces of government pie.

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Corporate welfare rolls on in South Dakota. Less than a month after announcing a $50-million partnership with billionaire T. Denny Sanford to fund vo-tech scholarships, Governor Dennis Daugaard is kicking some more state money back toward the Sanford professional family. The Sioux Falls Development Foundation announced Tuesday that the Governor will grant $3 million from the Future Fund to SAB Biotherapeutics. The company genetically engineers cattle to produce vaccines and treatments for various diseases. SAB Biotherapeutics will use this money to expand, possibly creating 200 new jobs paying in the $50K–$70K range in Sioux Falls.

Expanding jobs and curing Ebola is great. But note that this isn't the company's first swig at the public trough. SAB Biotherapeutics started as Hematech in Massachusetts back in 1998. Governor Mike Rounds bribed them into moving to South Dakota in 2003 with a $7.5-million economic development package. Then they became a Japanese company, then a Sanford company at the end of 2012 ("SAB" stood for "Sanford Applied Biosciences").

If the free market doesn't value life-saving vaccines enough to allow biotech firms to pay their own way, well, then I guess spending state money to promote public health is necessary. But perhaps this expansion will allow SAB Biotherapeutics to come up with a cure for addiction to government handouts.

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Steve Young report that the City of Sioux Falls is buying your phone data to track your movements around town to make your morning commute and trip to the Mall smoother:

Cellphone towers pinging phones as motorists travel in and around Sioux Falls are producing valuable information on the routes drivers take and how fast they get to their destinations.

It’s data transportation planners are increasingly using to help predict future road use and demands — how long to make access ramps on and off the interstates, for example, or how many turning lanes to include on those ramps [Steve Young, "Cell Phone Data Helps Map Future of Driving in City," that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.01.03].

Don't worry: Sioux Falls government officials never get a look at your personally identifying data. Heavens no: the private companies gathering your data strip your name and number from their data product before the sale, and they fuzz out your exact start and end points. But they don't have to:

[Sioux Falls ACLU director Heather] Smith said cellphone data that tracks locations could reveal if a person is a weekly church goer, a heavy gambler, a regular at a gym, or even who he or she appears to spend time with.

“It’s important to note that Congress has not legislated a standard for cellphone tracking. It’s largely dependent on state by state,” she said. “So generally speaking, the use of individual cellphone data could leave Sioux Falls residents with concerns about government access to their private information” [Young, 2015.01.03].

Mayor Huether could buy more detailed information about Scott Ehrisman's weekly travel habits. Mayor Huether could buy more detailed data, divide distance by time, mass-mail speeding tickets to every phone user who gets across town in under fifteen minutes. He could buy cell phone data to calculate road usage and send every driver a bill for road usage, essentially turning every street into a toll road. No federal legislation stops him. The Obama Administration says (and the courts so far agree) cell phone users have no reasonable expectation of locational privacy. The only things stopping Mayor Huether from such invasions of privacy are cost and good will:

At this point, Sioux Falls officials don’t have any plans to seek more such available data.

“Cost is always a factor in everything,” he said. “We’re seeing communities that are starting to go down that road and, from my standpoint, we’re watching what’s happening with them and how they’re using the data. It’s something that we would look at maybe going forward in the future” [Young, 2015.01.03].

Am I a conservative or a liberal if I say we need a harder check on government power here? Are our Congressional delegation and our state legislators insufficiently conservative or insufficiently liberal for not advocating a ban on the sale of our private phone data?

Or is privacy a dead concept, a small price to pay for being able to text "I'm on my way!" five minutes from home as corporations commoditize our life histories?

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Cory Allen Heidelberger in the KSOO studio, August 22, 2014. Photo by KSOO's Dan Peters.

A voice and a face for radio! Madville Times on the airwaves New Year's Eve, 6 p.m., 1140 AM, KSOO! (Photo by KSOO's Dan Peters, August 22, 2014)

Programming Note: you can hear the Madville Times live on KSOO Radio this evening at 6 p.m.! Todd Epp will interview me on Viewpoint University to discuss this blog's top stories for 2014 and 2015. I'll also have a chance to restore the IQ of VPU following the indigestible regurgitations of Pat Powers on air at 4:30 p.m.

Start your New Year's Eve off right with some audio blog fun on Viewpoint University, KSOO 1140 AM or live online or on your mobile unit! Feel free to shout at Epp and producer Dan Peters via the VPU Twitter handle.

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The new pawn shop payday lending magnate Chuck Brennan talked up in his Christmas card is now in the news. Brennan gets that Sioux Falls paper to promote his new Badlands Pawn, scheduled to open next Thanksgiving.

Brennan tells Jodi Schwan that he plans to spend $15 million to open not just a pawn shop but a 40,000-square-foot entertainment complex across from the new Sanford Premier Center as a response to what seems to be Brennan's gut feeling that plain old capitalism is a drag:

Somewhere [the pawn business] got to the point where it started to become a financial transaction and the showroom started losing its fun and people were just pawning stuff because they needed money, and they weren’t going for the pawnshop experience [Chuck Brennan, quoted in Jodi Schwan, "Entertainment Complex Coming near Events Center," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.12.25].

Brennan's right: capitalism has no soul!

To make business more fun, the "Largest Pawn shop in the Midwest" will include a gold foundry, a gun shop, a shooting range (free for cops!), its own FM radio station with live DJs simulcasting on 30+ stations, a house band led by Metal Cowboy Ron Keel and auditioning professional players and back-up singers now, a tattoo shop offering free Badlands Pawn ink, and a ticket broker providing all your scalping needs in one convenient location within easy walking distance of Sioux Falls' new concert venue. Brennan promises to fly the largest American flag on the largest flagpole (yes, that's phallic) in South Dakota. Brennan also plans to hire nearly 100 workers.

I don't know if Pawn of America will "restructure the tourism routes in the Midwest," but Brennan's pawn shop does sound like fun. And since Brennan is diversifying his portfolio into entertainment, he'll feel even less pain when we cap interest rates in 2016 and drive him out of the usury business. Everybody wins!

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Last weekend, usury boss Chuck Brennan warned that we'd be party-poopers if we dared to pass an initiative to cap lending rates at 36% and effectively put him and other payday lenders out of business.

It turns out that was just a political head fake. Brennan announced yesterday he's having to postpone "Chuck's Kegger," his proposed Ribfest-challenging chili-and-music festival, not because of political pressure, but because he couldn't get his groups in a hoop:

Brennan said the inaugural Chuck's Kegger would be delayed and attributed the delay to scheduling problems with performers.

"Everyone is on board with the project but artists' schedules are hard to predict and the stars have not quite aligned yet," Brennan wrote in a statement posted Thursday on the event's website. "We appreciate the avalanche of support that we have gotten on the kegger and I'm sure there will be more news to come."

Planning for the event had been underway for around six months and included a website, logo, ticket prices and informational packets.

It's unclear when Chuck's Kegger will now occur, if ever.

Brennan did not return a call for comment Thursday [David Montgomery, "Week After Announcement, Rock Festival Delayed," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.12.19].

Oh, yeah, announce your music festival before you ink the musicians—brilliant.

Poof goes one empty threat from the nervous usury industry. Keep your eyes open for more as the interest-rate initiative gets rolling in 2015.

Tangentially related update (12:57 CST): No kegger, but more Keg: Keg Chicken is returning to Sioux Falls.

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