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Madison Spending Six Times More Than Spearfish on Economic Development

Last updated on 2013.02.02

I had the pleasure of attending the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation's annual meeting last night at the Spearfish Convention Center. They fed me free meatballs. Mmmm....

They also handed me and the couple hundred other people there a copy of their proposed budget:

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation proposed 2012 budget
Spearfish Economic Development Corporation proposed 2012 budget (click image to enlarge)

Compare that with the budget the Lake Area Improvement Corporation, Madison's equivalent of the Spearfish EDC, submitted to the Madison City Commission last July 11:

Lake Area Improvement Corporation request (page 3) for $140,000 taxpayer subsidy, presented to Madison City Commission, 2011.07.11
(click image to enlarge)

The Spearfish EDC plans to spend $126,000 this year. $80,000 will come from the taxpayers. $46,336 will go toward administration—i.e., paying Bryan Walker to hustle for the city and to keep his stapler loaded.

Madison's LAIC last year burned up $740,000. The $265,000 the LAIC took from the taxpayers in 2011—$140,000 from the regular Madison budget, another $100,000 as Madison's last of five payments into the failed Forward Madison program, and $25,000 from Lake County—is more than double the Spearfish EDC's entire budget. Madison's LAIC spent more on salaries and other employee benefits in 2010—$156,848—than the Spearfish EDC spent on administration, recruitment/marketing, training, and business retention and expansion last year.

Overall, it appears that Madison spends nearly six times more on its economic development corporation than does Spearfish, and at least three times as much on salaries.

I invite reader assessments of whether Madison's LAIC is producing six times as much economic development as the Spearfish EDC.


  1. Mark O'Loughlen 2012.02.23

    I guess the question that needs to be answered is what kind of results does Spearfish have compared to Madison?

    Also, how open was the meeting in Spearfish? Was it just a look at me session or were they really getting input from the audience and working on realistic solutions for local eceonomic deveopment?

    A good test for you Mr. H is to visit them as you have in Madison and see what kind of reception you get and see what information they are willing to share.

  2. Rusty Shackleford 2012.02.23

    I plan on buying property and moving outside of the Madison city limits because I can't handle the spending policies our commission enacts. But more importantly, does Madison serve meatballs at commission meetings? Never been to one, but if I were fed...

  3. JohnKelley 2012.02.24

    Cory, for insider baseball on why Spearfish (west river) folks are so different from Madison folks read Colin Woodard's, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.
    Madison is 2 cultures removed from Spearfish. Woodard's map of the cultures flows by counties based on centuries long settlement and voting trends. Of course, like an expansive survey over a continent and over 500 years it is a truthful generalization. For example, the folks' ancestors in the mining towns of Lead and Deadwood do not have a lot in common with Spearfish for the latter was settled much later and from a different European and US stock.
    Bloomberg ran a 5-part synopsis, but read the book. You're in a whole 'nuther world out here. (And it may be helpful in your French class.)

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