Following up on Governor Dennis Daugaard's impending trip to the Twin Cities to steal away the best and brightest of their afternoon mall denizens, I find the South Dakota press is a few days behind the Minnesotans in discussing the big trip. MinnPost.com covered the trip last Thursday with more details on our taxpayer-funded efforts to get Minnesotans to give up the bright lights of the Twin Cities for our farther-flung prairie clime:
The recruitment efforts are happening through Dakota Roots, a worker recruitment initiative that South Dakota launched in 2006. It is currently in the midst of a marketing campaign through which roughly a dozen downtown Minneapolis coffee shops are giving patrons coffee sleeves that feature the Dakota Roots website. And just last week, South Dakota representatives spent a morning at Espresso Royale on Hennepin Avenue, where they gave free coffee to customers willing to stop and discuss job opportunities within the state [Christa Meland, "South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard heads to Minnesota, ups effort to lure job seekers," MinnPost.com, 2013.05.02].
Hi, we're South Dakotans. What would you like with your coffee?
From 1 to 2 p.m. on May 13, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard will be stationed at a Dakota Roots booth at the Mall of America, where he’ll visit with shoppers, answer questions about career possibilities in the state, and encourage Minnesotans to consider relocating to South Dakota [Meland, 2013.05.02].
The Governor won't be setting out a card table Monday; the State of South Dakota maintains a "Dakota Roots" booth in the Mall of America, right next to the Butterflies, Jewels, and Accessories booth, between Typo, Justice for Girls, Call It Spring, and Hot Topic near the North Garden entrance on Level 1.
According to a three-year-old Entrepreneur.com post, Mall of America rented vendor carts for $2300 a month. ($2,300 x 12 = $27,600/year.) Plus, we've got to be paying someone to man or woman that booth for 77 hours a week... and we aren't getting good representation if we're paying some Twin Cities kid with saggy pants minimum wage. Even if we're getting personnel for $10 an hour, that's $40K in yearly payroll. Add gas money for the Governor and other South Dakota reps to visit the Cities regularly (and hey, the Twins play at home against the White Sox Monday night... and Denny did study in Chicago!), and you can see where a big chunk of the $200,000 our Legislature appropriated to Dakota Roots in 2012 is going.
And hey, do you remember the 3,000 Minnesotans that the South Dakota press was saying have relocated to South Dakota since the Dakota Roots website launched in 2006? Hey, South Dacola! In another example of the difference between what you'll find in the South Dakota press and the Minnesota press, MinnPost's Meland says we got that wrong:
Slightly more than 3,000 Minnesotans registered as job seekers on the Dakota Roots website since it launched in October 2006—534 of whom have relocated to South Dakota. (That compares to 17,224 registrants from all states, 2,790 of whom have found jobs within South Dakota.) [Meland, 2013.05.02]
However many Minnesotans are falling for our propaganda, Governor Daugaard's trip is still an incredibly inefficient use of state resources. Sitting around in a mall waiting for people to walk up to you is about the worst market-targeting you can do. Meland points to Dakota Roots efforts that cost much less per contact:
South Dakota representatives worked with several alumni associations within the state to connect with out-of-state alums who might be interested in returning to the state of their alma mater. Approximately 103,000 South Dakota college alumni received direct mailers containing information about job opportunities (and wildflower seed packets). After that, traffic to Dakota Roots’ website quadrupled and the website has averaged 23 new registrations each day. Dovre said she wasn't sure how many of the 103,000 people are Minnesotans but estimates that a “large majority” are from within the state [Meland, 2013.05.02].
We talk with interested local folks, we get 103,000 potential targets, we send them mail, we get a quick return on our advertising dollar. Governor Daugaard can't be counting on shaking even 1,000 hands in his hour at the mall. The only way his trip boosts web traffic to Dakota Roots, not to mention producing anything close to the number of relocations that the alumni direct mailing might, is through the auxiliary press and online buzz the trip may generate. (You're welcome, Dennis!)
One last problem: Meland notes that Minnesota is regaining jobs lost in the recession faster than South Dakota:
As of earlier this year, however, Minnesota had regained nearly 90 percent of the 160,100 jobs that were shed during the recession. Over the past year, Minnesota has gained 46,400 jobs, representing a growth rate of 1.7 percent, compared with the U.S. rate of 1.5 percent [Meland, 2013.05.02].
South Dakota shed 11,290 jobs from March 2008 to March 2010. As of March 2013, we'd regained 83% of those lost jobs. And from March 2012 to March 2013, South Dakota saw a job growth rate of 0.4%. I would love for Governor Mark Dayton to drop by the Mall of America Monday and ask Governor Daugaard about those numbers.