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Daugaard Pulls Plug on Manpower Recruitment Flop, Learns Lesson… Sort Of

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?


  1. rollin potter 2013.12.08

    MS.Kim Olson: It sure is easy to spend that money when it is not coming directly out of your pocket isn't it!!!!!!!!!

  2. Rorschach 2013.12.08

    Kim Olson is the wife of termed-out former Rep. Ryan Olson, R-Onida.

    The bottom line is we spend $700,000 taxpayer money acting as the HR department for Trail King. How many welders could they have trained at a SD tech school for that amount of money?

  3. Porter Lansing 2013.12.08

    Until the good people of SoDak can come off their "white superiority" complex and accept or at least tolerate hard working, church going, education oriented Latino and Latina citizens the worker gap will never lessen.

  4. Jana 2013.12.08

    Don't forget that the huge layoffs that Trail King inflicted on the people of Mitchell the year before the corporate welfare gift from Daugaard cost the taxpayers of South Dakota a lot of money as well.

  5. Jerry 2013.12.08

    Maybe there could be a reaching out to the reservation's for the help that is needed. Finding a solution to employment could be accomplished by training and providing legitimate jobs. As mentioned, Trail King seems to be the puppeteer with ole Denny dancing the jig and tossin moolah. Maybe looking at what impact the state could have with the tribes could change things for the better in our state. Why not? The ways of the past do not seem to garner any fruit.

  6. The weather in Minnesota has been just as bad. Yet that does not seem to be a deterrent for our neighbor to the east. (And let's not even mention the weather in the Bakken, which has painful growing pains.) Apparently people only bail because of the weather if other things are also making life less than tolerable. Time for everyone to stop using weather as a cop-out.

  7. Roger Elgersma 2013.12.08

    They could just get conservative and let business do what business is supposed to do. Pay enough to get employees. When the biggest recruitment is to a company that layed off lots of people then that company did not do its job right in the first place. You can not let government do what business is supposed to do and still be conservative. Raising the minimum wage will help on the bottom end of the employers but the top end either has to be done by the employers or go to the old way of having unions. Then Morrells had lots of employee apps.

  8. Nick Nemec 2013.12.08

    Maybe if South Dakota companies would increase the amount they paid their employees they wouldn't have such a hard time finding people who want to work for them.

  9. rollin potter 2013.12.08

    Jerry!!!! you are right on!!!! Give them a chance and it would suprise a lot of people how industrios (sp) they are!!! I can give you a lot of names of very capable families on the reservations!!!!!!!!

  10. Les 2013.12.08

    I raise prices on main st and you order online Nick. I do that off main and you tell me my price is too high, after all this is SD the land of poverty mentality. All these simple solutions require some one to hand over more cash and it cant just be the business in the squeeze while we figure out how to put more cash in the hands of consumers to support those increases.
    Corporate is a different subject, but they darn sure pass on the costs to you as well.
    Tell me how well it worked for you the last time you raised the price on your corn or beef?.
    No matter where I go, here I am. Very seldom has my happiness been any different with higher or lower income from state to state. It always begins and ends with my budgeting and personal responsibility.
    As to the 5Mil Flop, I totally agree it should have been put into employee education in our areas of need we'd have great employees.

  11. Joan Brown 2013.12.08

    Whatever happened to good old fashioned apprenticeships, where employees were taught and trained while on the job?

  12. grudznick 2013.12.08

    If this Ms. Olson is the person responsible for this spending of money to try and get people to come here why is she not placed up at a pedastal during the next legislatures and made to answer questions?

    We don't want, do we Mr. H, the spending of millions of dollars to entice people to move here. I would be ok with spending a few thousand or more to chase some people away. I'm just sayin...

    And get this Ms. Olson on the stand, you libbies, or you are truly ineffective.

  13. Tara Volesky 2013.12.08

    We need to stop this insanity by bowing down to corporations that want government handouts. Have you ever heard of Job Service of SD. $19 million dollar budget. Dozens of private of employment agencies who would have loved to get a chance for the competition. Daugaard just wasted up to $5 million because of cronyism. Why did they contract with Manpower? Indeed jobs which is like manpower hadn't even heard of Manpower, so where is the connection? How about some answers? No excuses. Who's great idea was this? Must have been another connection to make some money off the taxpayers.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.08

    Jerry, do the folks on the reservation want to travel to Mitchell and other points for the jobs we're talking about? Or does sustainable economic development for the reservations rely on jobs on the reservation?

  15. grudznick 2013.12.08

    Ms. Volesky, the next conspiracy theory on this blog will be that Mr. Benda hated Job Service.

    I'm just sayin...

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.08

    Grudz, I tire of your irrelevancies. There is no conspiracy here. It doesn't take a conspiracy theory to see cronyism and bad policy here.

    Governor offers exclusive contract for $5 million, contract produces nothing like promised results. Governor at least has sense to cancel program. It would be nice to have a Governor who doesn't make such bone-brained policies in the first place.

  17. John 2013.12.08

    Heidi nailed it - pay them and they will come. Treat them as you would want to be treated and they will come. The states role is not picking winners. The states role is not being the HR for private industry. The states role is educating a world-class work force. Only after the state belatedly masters that core competency may the state fritter away resources on sideline activities.

  18. Bree S. 2013.12.08

    Grudz is against speculation in the comments section here, meanwhile dishonest personal attacks in the comments at DWC are just fine.

  19. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.12.08

    Grudz, are you saying that your "libbies" ought to fix this Big Republican Mess? Interesting.

    Heidi is certainly right about the weather excuse. It's just an excuse. The Dakotas are rather similar in most ways, with the exception of $$. That's what draws people to ND.

    Why do people move from Wisconsin and Colorado and Ohio to MN? They pay decently in those states too. Because states like MN are openly appreciative of the workers. They are paid decently, receive benefits, health care, etc.

    There is more, I'm sure, but pay and appreciation go a long way. Every week in local papers, and big ones like the Wall Street Journal, there are articles about the best ways to treat your workers for the greatest success.

    It just doesn't work any more to be contemptuous of employees. Treating them as though they should be grateful for an opportunity to take the low pay/no benefit job you put in front of them dooms your business to mediocrity at best, complete failure, more likely.

    Doing the same thing, only harder does not work! If you are a successful business person, you look at the facts, verify the numbers, and Act Based On That Information.

    Oh how I wish SD would do that. Sometimes I wish I could go to Pierre and bang heads together. At least I'd feel better.

  20. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.08

    Could it possibly be that out of state employees are skeptical of relocating to South Dakota because of "state sponsored" employment has such a dismal record? Would you risk all to move here when you found out the state squandered $60 million on a business that went belly up so fast?

    Jerry, reservations are a gold mine for talented and skilled labor and a untapped resource for labor. Many tribal members have lived off the reservation and gained marketable job skills.

    Many tribal members have returned to the reservation because of discrimination in the workplace . You know the story, never advancing in positions, less pay for the same work as others, treated unfairly, etc.

    I think Native Americans could be enticed to work off the reservation if they were given the same opportunities as others and work for a stable company. That maybe a little too much to hope for, given the state's increased racial tensions.

    I'm not suggesting that Native Americans be treated as special, but that they should be treated equally. I that possible?

  21. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.08


    The only conspiracy that is going on is the one the Governor is in charge of.

    Giving a few million dollars to an out of state company and not get any results.

    If Daugaard gets another term, he damn well better get out of the business of economic development. His repeated failures have demonstrated how just inept he is. You would think he would surround himself with people with real expertise in economic development, he can't even do that.

  22. Michael B 2013.12.08

    Use the money to support local efforts to encourage people who left to return to SD. The money could be used for postage and printing and it would not cost $5 million and it would give better results.

  23. Lanny V Stricherz 2013.12.09

    This failed economic development plan by the governor, pales in comparison to the many failed economic development plans in the past 10 years by the State and coming from both Governors Rounds and Daugaard. Consider, DM&E railroad expansion, Anderson elevator, Big Stone II Power Plant, Basin Electric Power Plant in Selby, two failed CAFO dairy operations in Veblen, Hyperion oil refinery and coal burning power plant and of course the failed Beef Plant in Aberdeen.

    The State of South Dakota needs to leave economic development to the Chamber of Commerce. It is not a function of government.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.09

    So Lanny, how would it go over if a Democratic candidate for Governor or Legislature seized on your suggestion and advocated doing just that: leave traditional economic development (business recruitment, grants and incentives) to the Chamber of Commerce and redirect all state funding for economic development to education, health care, the highway fund, and Game Fish and Parks? Campaign on the following line: "Real economic development is about improving the overall quality of life for all workers and entrepreneurs so they can better work their free-market magic"?

  25. Jerry 2013.12.09

    CAH, it would seem to me that both could be enacted. There could be a strong active recruitment of young job seekers on the reservation with a kind of apprenticeship job skills program. The apprenticeship would not be of minimum wage scales either, but of a wage that the recruit could see a future with going further. Adequate housing and the same kinds of assistance that are promised out of state recruits, would be also in order.

    There could also be an outreach of select manufacturing constructed and maintained on the reservations themselves with a long-term goal and not one of build it for tax purposes and then abandon it to write off the loss. If the companies and the state are serious about finding workers to fill vacancies, then they could open negotiations with private tribal agencies like the Chamber of Commerce as an example, like the one in Kyle for instance. If an economic impact zone could be utilized as an example, to put a satellite operation for the right clean industry, that could be examined to see if it would work on the reservation. As noted by the direction the Tribe has taken in Pine Ridge, they are interested in the future of their lands by removing cattle and installing buffalo, so something that will not leave a huge carbon footprint would be a great start. There are many places to start with the first being that or recognition of the equality of all people and the understanding that there is a special relationship with the tribes that starts with that mutual respect. This would and could be a start to open negotiations with all the tribes here in South Dakota. Now, my question to you, why would something like that not work? It is clear that South Dakota has the money to go out of state to recruit, does it have the political will to do so in state?

  26. Les 2013.12.09

    There is plenty of history as to what works and what doesn't on the Rez. Fixing what doesn't means the sovereign ideology needs reforms as well.

  27. interested party 2013.12.09

    thank you doctor science.

  28. Jerry 2013.12.09

    In your mind Les or should I say in your opinion, what is it that works? Regarding sovereign ideology, I was referring to that with mutual respect. To me, that is the key to all negotiations big and small. It would be crucial in the event of any kind of location considerations on the reservations, without that, nothing happens. It would be interesting to see a dialogue begin though as it seems that there is a mutual shared interest in good and honest relationships between neighbors. To begin that with a shared economic interest, would be a most definite achievement for all parties.

  29. Bill Dithmer 2013.12.09

    "Jerry, do the folks on the reservation want to travel to Mitchell and other points for the jobs we're talking about? Or does sustainable economic development for the reservations rely on jobs on the reservation?"

    Cory you hit the nail on the head. There was a study just released dealing with the retention rates of native students and what could be done to keep these kids in school.

    "Like two different worlds: American Indian perspectives on college-going in South Dakota,"

    Part of that study said that one of the reasons for dropout was the difference in cultures on and off of the reservations and the difficulty in the transition between the two. That wouldn't change after someone gets older so yes working off the res would be a stretch for some.

    We would be better off with jobs right here on the reservations but sadly the tribes don't want business without complete control to be a part of their jobs plan. No major business will be willing to relocated to a place where they cant control the hiring and firing of those people they employ or the people that they do business with. The state cant fix that problem, only the tribes can do that.

    If we could get passed all that a couple of strategically placed Votech schools would sure be nice additions. Electrical, green energy's, welding, and green manufacturing would make a nice start.

    Until the business climate changes here on the res, nothing will change as far as jobs are concerned.

    The Blindman

  30. Les 2013.12.09

    You tell me what works on the Rez, Jerry. I've had Indians in my life as long as I can remember, both as welcome guests to our home, working side by side growing up and across the counter as an adult. You choose to look at my statement cynically so obviously you know what works and what doesn't! Mutual respect? Yea right, exactly what you're promoting here.

  31. Jerry 2013.12.09

    You read me incorrectly Les. The last thing that I would do is to look at any suggestions as cynical. I have read your posts in the past and ask you as someone who does not sound all racist when it comes to Native matters. The "mutual respect" I was referring to is between the state and the tribes as sovereign entities. Now, again, in your opinion, what do you see working?

  32. Jerry 2013.12.09

    Mr. Dithmer, I do not argue the point about students as they are young folks. I remember those days as well and it was hard to retain me from doing anything other than what I wanted to do and that was to stay around my friends. I went to the military and they kind of put my roam to an end unless they told me specifically where to roam.

    I speak of a business need to hire and train and I think that something like that could work if the pay and the future were to be provided at the companies that need the workforce. Native workers as well as any other workers are not going to leave to go someplace that pays crap for wages and has no future to offer. If that would be the case, then there would not be slots to fill. I think that if you train people in an apprenticeship and pay them a decent wage while they are in that apprenticeship, it could work. No one could expect it to be 100% successful, but no one should expect it to fail if done correctly either. This is not about a government program that has limits, this is about a future.

    Regarding opportunities on the reservation, the dialogue must be established to get that off the ground. I remember Governor Mikleson and his efforts to have a dialogue with the tribes. If you recall, he had success in that regard and who knows what could have happened had he not been taken from us so soon. His door was always open in his dealings and that is how it could still work. The problem as I see it, is that no one is willing to make those overtures. Why is that? As a sovereign nation dealing with a sovereign state, there could be a details and deals that would work to everyone's advantage. The economic impact zone could also involve the federal government as a partner. Nothing is hard when you go to work.

  33. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.09

    In reading the comments here, it occurred to me that criticism of tribal government and economic development on reservations should be applicable to the state of South Dakota. The only real difference in the two is that tribes didn't have the opportunity to squander $60 million on one business misadventure.

    Now, when whites criticize tribes I hope they will criticize their own state's leadership in economic development first.

    The repeated failures of the Rounds/Daugaard administrations is a testament to economic development failure and probably couldn't provide any sage advice to tribal recruitment on economic development.
    It also became abundantly clear to me that the state of South Dakota is willing to spend $5 million in out of state recruitment precisely so they wouldn't have to recruit from the reservations.

  34. Bill Dithmer 2013.12.09

    "Why is that? As a sovereign nation dealing with a sovereign state, there could be a details and deals that would work to everyone's advantage"

    I would agree Jerry if you could give me an example of how that would work. The tribe needs to give an inch to make progress and so far they don't want to do that. So far the only big investments have come from other tribes, never from big business. We need that partnership between big business and the tribes to have any hope of a future here. The money you talk about for the jobs can only come from a business that wants to do business the way they want to do business, and it will never happen if to much control is taken away from them.

    If the jobs you are talking about, paid what you want them to pay, with an apprenticeship tied to them, those jobs would have already been filled by other sources. Wouldn't they?

    Like it or not apprenticed jobs that pay a living wage are an investment that cost money. So far there arnt any companies that want to assume the risk of failure from a program with the chance of success, and it doesn’t matter if you are from the reservation or in the open market.

    The Blindman

  35. Les 2013.12.09

    Julie Garreau's Cheyenne River Youth Project is what I consider, the best example of what is working on the Rez. Bringing Indian Culture, gardening, technology and just a safe environment to the children of the Rez. Julie quotes another and I probably misquote her but, "if you're coming to help that's ok, but if you're coming to share our liberation, that's what The Cheyenne River Youth Project is all about.
    My opinion here, I believe often, both on and off the Rez, we spend so much of our resources on the folks already lost to the host of issues, we short the youth to babies who will grow into tomorrows leaders if given a chance.

  36. Jerry 2013.12.09

    Julie Garreau has spent many years on projects and you are correct, this is the type of relationship that works. Speaking of the CRST, I remember Gregg Bourland and some proposals that he had regarding economic impact zones and their worth on reservation lands. Then there is this:

    Companies are missing the boat here by not trying to negotiate with terms that are reasonable to all parties. I disagree that there can not be solutions to problems if there is an honest approach to solve them. There is a wealth of young people on the reservations that could bloom with the right conditions. Why not give it a try?

  37. Bill Dithmer 2013.12.09

    "There is a wealth of young people on the reservations that could bloom with the right conditions."

    You are absolutely right Jerry. Unfortunately there are the same kind of young people all over the country that could bloom with the right conditions and the businesses wouldn't have to jump through hoops to hire them like they do now on the reservations.

    No matter what anyone says, the tribes are their own worst enemies when it comes to jobs.

    The legislature of this state is its own worst enemy when it comes to jobs. Not because they don't want those jobs but because they only want to pay for the jobs that they want people to do. Teaching comes to mind here.

    And this country is its own worst enemy because it could have passed a real jobs bill but declined to because it would have meant shorting the defense spending a few billion dollars.

    We had a jobs bill introduced that would have rebuilt infrastructure and increased the value of this country proportionately to the amount of money it would have cost to hire the labor. Low interest rates, a big unemployed but skilled work force, and a chance to let people hold their heads up because they were doing something important.

    Will we ever get that chance again?

    The Blindman

  38. Bill Dithmer 2013.12.09

    they only want to pay so much for the jobs that they want people to do. Teaching comes to mind here.

    The Blindman

  39. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.09

    To be clear, the state and the tribe do not need to negotiating to recruit tribal members for private sector employment. Tribal council approval is not required, it would be nice to inform the tribe of their intent.

    All that would be required is to work through South Dakota Job Services and erect a kiosk in prominent location. The only cost would be the manpower to answer questions and mileage for travel.

  40. Jerry 2013.12.09

    So then, were all cool with the 5 million pissed away by the governor? Happy as a clam that some 70 million will be lost in the vapor of political favors. Content as a tick on a new hound that we have a system that is geared only to the power brokers and million upon millions of tax payer dollars have gone up in smoke in shady deals with foreign nationals. Nice state of affairs for sure.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.12.11

    (Hey, I'm only accepting pseudonyms if you share a real e-mail address with me.)

    The headline is perfectly accurate. I challenge the anonymous commenter above to (a) explain what's inaccurate about it and (b) tell me his/her name.

Comments are closed.