Why Wall Rocks Series #7 – We Made Things Happen!
1 Dec 2017
We blinked and now we’re here – the last month of the year. December reminds us of those New Year’s resolutions we did not quite reach and also just how much we did not save for Christmas gifts this year. December also brings the joy of gathering family, creating memories and provides a chance to reflect on the past year as we prepare to begin again.
2017 was an exciting year for the Wall Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). This month’s newsletter will reflect on the many ways Wall rocked throughout the year and the amazing projects we accomplished as a community.
We Worked on Workforce
In order to grow, attract and improve business, Wall needs workers! WEDC has made it a priority to work on workforce. We need workforce to fill jobs now, but we also need to cultivate the workforce of the future.
We are lucky to have the Wall School District as a fantastic partner and supporter of our workforce efforts. Thanks to the school we have been able to implement several projects with students.
WEDC partnered with the Wall School and City of Wall to present the second annual “Mailbox Project.” The City purchases mailboxes for each graduating senior. We write their last name and Wall, SD on the side of the mailbox. The mailbox is filled with letters from the Wall City Council, Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce, WEDC and local businesses. The overall message encourages the students to go out, explore the world, but always know they can come home to work, start a business, live, raise a family and prosper in Wall.
The Wall School District launched the school-to-work program for the second year in a row. Thanks to Lex Heathershaw, the program has significantly expanded. There were students placed at several locations around Wall, including: Golden West, Wall Clinic, Wall Ambulance, elementary classrooms, school counselor’s office, Golden Veterinary Services, Polished Pinky, Vintage Soule, SPED department, Wall Drug Pharmacy and 4th Avenue Floral. What an awesome program and partnership to showcase all of the available career opportunities in Wall.
WEDC hosted the first annual “Career Round Tables” event at the Wall School. This event allowed business leaders to sit down and have a small group discussion about their career with students. It exposed students to the several career opportunities in Wall. Before the event, students were asked how many thought they could have a career in Wall. About five percent of students raised their hands. After the event, about 75 percent of students raised their hands. The future of Wall is bright!
WEDC partnered with the Badlands Bad River Regional Economic Development Partnership to hold the second annual Job Fair and Career Expo. There were almost 40 exhibitors representing employers, educational institutions and resource providers. Students from Wall and Philip had the opportunity to explore career opportunities in the Badlands Bad River Region, including Wall, Philip and Kadoka. Community members and job seekers could also explore potential new careers. The goal was connect students and community members with employers and the educational pathways to those careers. The Job Fair and Career Expo achieved that goal!
WEDC is currently partnering with local businesses, community members and the Puerto Rico Department of Labor to recruit workforce from Puerto Rico. We hope to provide jobs and homes to those affected by Hurricane Maria. This is a long-term goal that we hope to achieve by spring/summer 2018.
We Developed Our Community
2017 was a year of firsts and continued accomplishments focused on community development.
In 2017, WEDC started and completed the first stage of the Wall Archery Range, a stationary and 3-D walking archery range located south of the Wall Golf Course. This success was not without help from several community members and organizations. The Wall Archery Range was made possible by financial support from the Wellmark Community Foundation, South Dakota Farm Bureau, Pennington/Jackson County Farm Bureau, the First Interstate Greater Wall Fund and the City of Wall. West River Electric Association and the City of Wall donated time and labor. The Wall Golf Course Board provided support. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks provided guidance for safety regulations, range set-up and Wall Archery Day events. The National Grasslands Visitor Center also helped make Wall Archery Day events a success. A small, but mighty team of volunteers helped ensure the project was moving forward and completed on time. It’s amazing what a community can accomplish when we all work together!
One of the most exciting 2017 events was the Wall Crawl. The Wall Crawl was held on August 7th, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The event was the result of a small group of community members deciding not to wait around for someone else to do something anymore! They took the idea and responsibility into their own hands and made it happen! The Wall Crawl included a show and shine, a raffle and poker run to support the Ride Therapy Project and a 35th and Taylor concert. The poker run and raffle helped the Ride Therapy Project, a non-profit that rebuilds motorcycles for disabled veterans, raise over $1,000 for their cause. The 35th and Taylor concert brought in more than 300 locals and visitors. Mark your calendars for Wall Crawl 2018 – August 4th!
Thanks to WEDC’s partnership with the Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce, we were able to continue our annual fall festival, Wall in the Fall. The event expanded this year by partnering with the Quad County Relay for Life team. This helped bring more people into both events and gain regional media attention.
The Chamber and WEDC partnered to launch the third annual “Home for the Holidays” shop local campaign. This campaign rewards community members for shopping local. The campaign has reflected over $200,000 in local spending in the last two years and we have high hopes to exceed that number in 2017!
In 2017, WEDC and the City of Wall partnered to bring the Everybody Walks! SD program to Wall. Twice each month, community members take a two-mile walk together around the community. The walks are more than a simple walk. The walks allow the community to come together, be active, get to know one another better, clean up the community and make a difference in Wall!
One of the most exciting 2017 community development projects was Marketing Hometown America (MHA). MHA gathered community members to discuss Wall’s strengths, weaknesses and what they can do to make a change. This project brought forward ideas for community marketing, community events, business attraction and youth engagement.
One MHA idea was to create a drive-in movie theatre. Wall High School Senior Sierra Wilson decided to take action and make the project happen! In just a few short months, Sierra gathered a team, found funding and created the “Wall Field of Films.”
MHA brought forward many ideas for recreation, including an idea for a half-marathon/marathon through the Badlands National Park. Community member Charon Geigle took this idea, shifted it a bit, and created the first annual Wheelin’ to Wall event. Wheelin’ to Wall included bike rides through Wall and the Badlands National Park from 100-miles long to 10-miles long. The event brought 30+ people into the Wall community from all over the region! $500 in Wheelin’ to Wall proceeds were donated to the City of Wall for walkability and bike-ability improvement projects.
When given the tools and capacity, community members can create amazing change!
Business Retention and Expansion
Another exciting 2017 accomplishment was the reopening of the Wall Meat Processing Plant. The Wall Meat Processing Plant closed in early 2017. Once the facility closed, WEDC started outreach to help find new owners. Thanks to connections made by WEDC board member Josh Geigle, the Wall community was able to connect with Ken Charfauros and Janet Niehaus. Ken and Janet decided to buy the plant and have since expanded the facility’s services, created jobs and continue to update the building.
Recently, Wall’s Jitterbug Daycare closed. Daycare is vital to the Wall community. WEDC is currently working with community members to establish a Daycare Action Team to help solve Wall’s lack of daycare. Stay tuned for updates!
WEDC has identified value added agriculture as our business attraction focus. To jump-start this effort, WEDC hosted the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and local agriculture producers in March to discuss how we can connect with and prepare for value added agriculture development. During the meeting, guest speaker Elwyn Beck discussed on farm cold pressing as a possible value added agriculture project for local producers. WEDC will continue to build on this momentum into 2018.
To further our business attraction efforts, WEDC is working with the Pennington County Commission and Wall City Council to create tax incentives for new and expanding businesses.
WEDC and the City of Wall partnered to create a land exchange agreement. The agreement is for any business looking to move into Wall or expand in Wall onto city-owned property. Businesses must complete an application, which can be picked up at the WEDC office. Please call the WEDC office for more information.
Another exciting 2017 project was the WEDC and City of Wall partnership to create two housing incentives. The first is a dilapidated property demolition incentive. For $0.75 per square foot of the building, the City of Wall will demolish a dilapidated property. Applications for demolition can be picked up from the WEDC office.
The second incentive is a 5-year municipal property tax rebate for any newly built home. If you were looking to build a home in Wall, now is the time! If you would like more detailed information, please call the WEDC office.
WEDC is Moving Forward
The WEDC Board of Directors worked hard in 2017 to establish a strategic plan. The plan will be revealed in the January 2018 WEDC newsletter!
As always, thank you for being such a great community. It is because of you we have it all in Wall!
WEDC Executive Director