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Goose Egg? Contractors Land $50K Grant for Mobile Vo-Tech Training Around Sioux Falls

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.


  1. Nick Nemec 2015.01.19

    We can continue to spend tax money recruiting young people into whatever job field we want but until the people recruited are paid nationally competitive wages they will continue to move out of state after the training period is completed. There is a way to slow down or reverse the treadmill of young skilled workers heading out of state to take similar jobs for higher pay in other states, our leaders have yet to develop the courage to address the real problem. Someday maybe they will be willing to speak truth to power.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.19

    $100,000 could give 10 workers a $5/hr raise for a year. Which program would go further for meeting workforce needs, 10 raises or 3 training trailers?

  3. Jenny 2015.01.19

    SD is at a disadvantage in the first place. It isn't exactly a person's cup o' tea to move to the middle of nowhere ( I don't mean that in a bad way), then with the reputation of being low wage and anti-gay just makes it more unfavorable. People have a lot of tools these days to look up the cost of living and wage scales about these days such as Prospective job seekers will find the truth on these websites about wage and cost of living states, politics, climate -everything they need to know. People are finding out that SD is NOT the low cost of living that so many South Dakotans claim.

  4. Bill Fleming 2015.01.19

    Cory, not to quibble (or, hey, maybe just to quibble), but without the $50K grant, there would only be enough to give 5 people those raises, right? Or do you seriously see private companies applying for state grants for the sole purpose of giving their employees a pay raise?

  5. Steve Sibson 2015.01.19

    Nick, the Daugaard workforce development plan is about reducing corporatists' costs, which does mean taking higher wages off the table. It also means getting a pay check while being trained on-the-job will soon be a thing of the past. It is easier to control society when the workforce is in debt, which will happen even if tuition is paid for by the taxpayers already working. This is not a South Dakota plan. This is being directed globally.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.19

    Nick, that gal on the guitar is great! We should book her at the Sanford Premier Center... or better yet, at ten small venues where we can appreciate her acoustic talent. :-)

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.19

    Quibble away, Bill! True, the contractors are putting $50K of their own money, which they could immediately translate into $5 raises for ten workers (or one, maybe two, guys at each partner business).

    I wasn't thinking through the notion of state grants for pay raises, but you know, now that you mention it, instead of contorting ourselves with all these indirect subsidies for business to recruit and retain workforce (training, housing, etc.), why not give grants to support competitive wages? Why not rebate the Future Fund taxes to employers who can demonstrate they are paying wages competitive with employers in neighboring states?

  8. Bill Fleming 2015.01.19

    You da man Cory. :-)

  9. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.19

    There is no such thing as mobile training lab for advanced manufacturing, carpentry, and welding. Thats classroom and hours of hands on training.

    Why is the state subsidizing some of SDs wealthiest businesses? They would be better off sending three Planned Parenthood vans on the road. They could get reputable sponsors like Trojan " comdom commandos," or SMB "IUDs for Christ."

    I dont mean to make light of this but it looks like there will be more recruiting going on in these vans then teaching. I have a few questions.

    1. Whos idea was this, Joop Bollens?
    2. Is there another state that has done this with any kind of success?
    3. What would the length of the experiment be, 1,2, 10 years?
    4. Is there funding to give the people in the state a complete paper trail detailing progress and or lack of?
    5. What exact ocupations will these mobile vans service at the exclusion of others?

    I sure could be wrong, but it looks like while the program is a win win for the companys that need workers, for the rest of the state its just people driving around at their expense.

    The Blindman

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.19

    Blindman, it sounds like you're saying this trailers are just the latest medicine-show wagons from Pierre.

    Let me look for some good here, Blindman: is it possible that a traveling welding wagon could allow four schools to rotate and conduct nine-week welding units during the year without each school having to invest in, maintain, and store the equipment all year?

  11. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.19

    " Why not rebate the Future Fund taxes to employers who can demonstrate they are paying wages competitive with employers in neighboring states?"

    Because these same companies already have TIFs and other favorable tax incentives to get them to stay in the state. Stay the hell out of funding private business. Or are you ready and willing to start oicking winners and loosers.

    The Blindman

  12. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.19

    First, which four schools are we talking about, and then the question, why those schools and not others in the state.

    I see this as an east river only project, wheres the meat for west river folks?

    The only way this state moves forward is through "advanced technical education." Not what comes in a van, but the kind you spend hrs in a classroom and hrs in a lab. Give these people a chance to earn a two year degree, and make it possible for them to go anywhere in the world to get a job. Sure tehy might leave but if the state changes, and it will have to to compete, they will come back.

    The Blindman

  13. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.19

    To be truthful Cory, this wouldnt even make a good medicine show.

    The Blindman

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.19

    East River only? Heck, it's Sioux Falls metro only. I offer the four-school-share idea as speculation, not anything written explicitly in the grant proposal. I suppose there's nothing stopping the contractors' association from running the trailers all the way up to Madison and all the way down to Beresford and Viborg in their quest for recruits. But I would bet from the list of partners on the application that we're talking Sioux Falls, Harrisburg, Brandon, Tea.

  15. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.19

    Gabrielle, is one of my favorite young guitarist, the other one I have been following is Sungha Jung.

    The Blindman

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