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Pierre Building Local Workforce, Chooses Training over Out-State Marketing

The fourteen community workforce development grants recently approved by the states are heavy on local training. Consider the grant the City of Pierre won. Pierre proposed a $100,000+ two-pronged program.

First, Pierre says it needs more truck drivers for construction (how's that for specific workforce needs?). They want to create a branch of Mitchell Technical Institute's commercial driver's license (CDL) training program in Pierre. They also want to cover the cost of that training and licensing (about $2,500) for each of those potential drivers. In return, the new CDL holders would promise to work for their sponsoring company for a period to be determined or pay the money back of they leave early.

Second, Pierre wants to target the 10% of local high school students in the area who apparently don't have solid post-secondary education or career plans with a job-shadowing program. The city would line sixteen kids up with employers who need more potential workers in their hiring pipeline. The shadowers would do real work eight hours a week for sixteen weeks. They'd get paid real money, $10 an hour—a quarter from the business, a quarter from the city, and half from the state grant.

Pierre asked for $50,240 from the state; they got $20,480, which equals the total cost of the job-shadow program.

Why would Pierre focus on training local young people and current residents who can't afford CDL training? Let me highlight one passage from Pierre's application:

...[W]e looked at strategies for building that pipeline and identified two primary options.

  • recruiting people from outside of South Dakota
  • engaging people who are already near, but not currently engaged in the workforce

Our employers tell us, historically those who come from outside the area don’t stick around. To retain employees, they need a local connection. So, we chose the engagement route and explored a number of disengaged workforce sources... [City of Pierre, Community Incentives Matching Program grant application, November 2014].

Trying to recruit out-state workers apparently doesn't work, at least not in Pierre. Our capital city thus chooses to grow its own workforce.

Update 11:01 CST: Hmmm... the Gregory Business and Industrial Development Corporation is getting $7,000 from the state as part of its $14,000 program to help local folks get their CDL. Gregory's application says the cost of CDL training and testing through MTI is $1,600 per student, not $2,500. Gregory will support ten students in their CDL class. The state will pick up $700 for each student, local GBIDC donations another $700, and each student the remaining $200.


  1. jerry 2015.01.24

    Interesting, a week or so ago, I spoke with a lady from Pierre and she told me of the severe lack of employees there. I do not know if this is accurate or not, but she told me that Walmart had to bus workers in so she could not figure how Menard's was going to find workers to man the new store there. I think I see now. Can we call this a republican stimulus package for the corporate big wigs?

  2. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.24

    South Dakotans are sure their work ethic is what makes them good. So we have tried to spend millions of our tax money on recruiting out of state welders etc. and entice out state votech students to come here with free votech tuition. We want Hispanics to come illegally so the farm work will get done.
    Now someone wants to mentor kids with no direction. Actually there is some good in that since no matter how good our work ethic has been, there are always a few young kids that need a sense of direction.
    But there are normally plenty of good people who could drive truck. Someday South Dakota might learn that supply and demand of the free market capitalistic system will require adequate pay to get adequate amounts of adequately responsible workers to stay here.
    I am not just talking economic theory that just works somewhere else on the planet. When the farm prices went up the last seven years, lots more rural kids stayed in rural areas to farm or work in town, YES EVEN HERE IN SOUTH DAKOTA. It actually works to pay people more.

  3. larry kurtz 2015.01.24

    Pierre can't even land a reputable subsidized air service provider but its mayor can let a Wisconsin billionaire drive local family-owned businesses to close.

  4. larry kurtz 2015.01.24

    South Dakota should just become one big law enforcement academy for white cops.

  5. Loren 2015.01.24

    So, if I understand correctly, Williston ND must have a lot of workers with "local connections" because workers are flocking to ND and not leaving! Must be the family ties that keeps 'em there. What else could it be? BTW, why are we considering paying $10/hr for the intern program? I thought the whole Republican mantra was "$7.25/ hr minimum wage is NEEDED for entry level jobs". How else can companies afford to stay in business if they have to pay more for entry level labor, well, unless there is a GOVERNMENT PROGRAM to help those companies! But I thought...!

  6. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.24

    John Boehner says that he needed a very low minimum wage to get his first jobs. He was a bully that grew up in the family bar.
    I grew up by a dry town and my first job I threw hay bales all day. As the smallest in my class at fifteen I was not sure I could do that all day but I did. At the end of the day we asked what our pay was going to be. We got offered one fifty an hour, thirty percent above minimum wage and were asked if that was enough. So I think that if you tell the kids that if they are good people and work hard they will get paid good.
    So maybe I am idealistic and naïve. But our system worked well.

  7. Paul Seamans 2015.01.25

    Pierre's idea of economic development is providing tax breaks for Walmart and Menards to lure them into the city. Two grocery stores have closed their doors since Walmart came to town. A lumber yard right next door to Menards, a business that didn't receive the Menards perks from the Pierre council, has closed it's doors before Menards even opens for business.

  8. Paul Seamans 2015.01.25

    Thanks for the link, Larry. It's been a pleasure to avoid Walmart and Menards as much as I can. Your post gives me even more reason to stay away.

  9. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.25

    " Someday South Dakota might learn that supply and demand of the free market capitalistic system will require adequate pay to get adequate amounts of adequately responsible workers to stay here."

    Might be the best sentence written on the subject. SD continues to educate for the employers, not for their future employees.

    Here's what I propose. One bare bones college in the state. No sports, and no extra anything, just professors and classrooms. Offer degrees without prerecrresites that dont do anything for your chosen profession. Let the needs of the future students actually drive what classes you add to the chareculum. Teach what they want to learn, not what someone else wants to sell them for their education.

    I will use me as an example. Because of my unique situation, I had a full ride to any public university in the US. I chose BH. After two years of of school I knew that I would never find the knowledge I craved in any college without all the bullshit. So i quit. I could have continued my education for many years without worrying about cost, but I lost interest because of the damn boring prerecrresites. The drop out rates tell me that nothing has changed.

    If the state of SD offered a no bones U, there would be students, employers, and bankers, beating a path to that college.

    The Blindman

  10. Bill Fleming 2015.01.25

    Dithmer, just curious, did you eventually "find the knowledge (you) craved"? P.s. I kind of know the feeling. I wasn't sure exactly what i was looking for, but as I would go through syllabus descriptions of the classes ofered, I'd find myself saying ,"that's not it...that's not it..." And then, every once in a while a "hmmm... That might be it." so I would take those. Most of them weren't it either. But some were. Life drawing class for example. ;-)

  11. grudznick 2015.01.25

    Go 'hounds! Beat Northern State Teacher's college like a wolfskin drum

  12. JeniW 2015.01.25

    Is there not a women's prison in the Pierre area that have inmates who are close to ending their sentences that would benefit from work training?

    I find it incredible that there are messages that there are not enough bodies in SD to fill job positions, yet there are hundreds of people who are in prison for non-violent, and/or not charged with felony crimes.

    I can see the logic of not rewarding people for committing crimes by offering free work training, but just think if the individuals have training they are more likely to find jobs, and will not engage in other criminal activities.

    No doubt there will be those who receive the training, get out of prison, then end up back in prison, but I think the majority of the individuals would not. use criminal behaviors again,

  13. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.25

    Bf, yes i did. But it took 20 years to get the knowledge I could have had in less then two months of classroom time. That same knowledge can be found online now , but there is no substitute for a person that teaches.

    The Blindman

  14. mike from iowa 2015.01.25

    Blindman-how about a conservative arts institute to teach crony capitalism,anti-worker,anti-union,anti-minimum wage,all profits go to the shareholders,etc? Wingnuts are forever complaining about liberal arts schools.

  15. Nick Nemec 2015.01.26

    The obvious answer to Pierre's worker woes is located on the three Indian reservations (Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River) within easy driving distance of Pierre. There is a large pool of unemployed workers on each of those reservations, but they need to be recruited and adequately paid. Housing is not cheap and is more expensive in Pierre than other SD towns.

    Isn't it amazing how at the root of all worker shortages is a shortage of pay? Supply and demand can cure many problems.

  16. Jenny 2015.01.26

    I shudder to think what would have happened if I had stayed in SD. I know there is a correlation between low wages, depression and a repressed one party system. Alcoholism, domestic violence and suicide levels must be higher in SD than other states, I'm sure. Sioux Falls isn't doing anything either about lack of teachers and low wages. The whole state is depressing.

  17. Jenny 2015.01.26

    Sorry Cory, but I just have to tell you and I was very surprised about it. That Sioux Fall paper had a survey out this weekend asking if SD teachers should be paid more and an overwhelming 80% plus said YES. Why, why, why then doesn't the legislators and DD do anything about it. Elect some Dems for a change South Dakotans, isn't it about time?

  18. tara volesky 2015.01.26

    People don't vote the issues, they vote Republican.

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