1 Jan 2017
Happy 2017 Wall Community! 2016 sure did seem to fly by! For WEDC, it was full of surveys, studies and trying new things. As we embark upon a new year, WEDC would like to take this opportunity to highlight our 2016 accomplishments and share our 2017 goals. As always, we are keeping busy and could not do it without continued community support and feedback.
What did we do in 2016?
One of our greatest 2016 accomplishments was creating the Wall Economic Development Corporation. In April, WEDC became an official nonprofit corporation in the eyes of the State of South Dakota. With that, WEDC has an official board of directors, designated to guide WEDC for years to come.
Learned about the community
In 2016, WEDC spent time getting to know the community and its businesses. Through surveys and face-to-face interviews, we had an opportunity to learn what community members, high school students and business owners thought about Wall’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This information was invaluable to WEDC, and we have used it to guide our decision making and strategic planning.
Made Plans and Worked Toward Goals
On February 27th, 2016, what was then the economic development committee met for a strategic planning session. Using survey results and community feedback, the team set three economic development priorities: 1) Housing, 2) Community Development and 3) Business Retention and Expansion. The team set goals within each priority, and we spent 2016 working toward accomplishing these goals.
Housing Study: WEDC and the City of Wall worked with the South Dakota Housing Development Authority to commission Wall’s first housing study. The housing study details Wall’s future housing needs and offers several specific recommendations for housing development. The housing study is a tremendous tool that WEDC is using to aggressively pursue housing development projects. WEDC will be holding a housing study presentation on January 12th. The purpose of this meeting is to share Wall’s housing needs and encourage housing development projects.
Housing Committee: WEDC has formed a housing committee, tasked with setting specific housing development goals and plans. The next open housing committee meeting is set for 12 pm, January 11th, 2017, in the Wall Community Center.
Community Housing Conversations: On Tuesday, November 29th, WEDC hosted business owners, landlords and contractors to discuss solutions for seasonal and rental housing. We had a great turnout and shared several ideas for housing development.
Housing Database: We have created an online housing database, which lists available rentals, homes for sale and available lots. Community members can submit available rentals, or can fill out the “seeking a roommate/rental” form. The database can be found here.
Housing Toolbox: WEDC is working closely with the Wall City Council to create a “Housing Toolbox.” This toolbox will include incentives that the City of Wall can offer to help encourage housing development or rehabilitation.
Marketing Hometown America: WEDC signed on with SDSU Extension in 2016 to bring Marketing Hometown America, a community engagement project, to Wall in 2017. Marketing Hometown America encourages community members to gather and discuss why they love living in Wall, and find ways to market the community to potential residents. This project starts in January, and we couldn’t be more excited!
New Community Events: WEDC has helped organize community events to help build community and create more activities for families. These events included:
- The Home for the Holidays Campaign
- The Mailbox Project
- Archery Day
- The Farmers Market (helped organize a team)
- Coffee and Calendars
- “Lunch and Learn” sessions
- Wall in the Fall
Wall Archery Range: WEDC has applied for and received $14,000 in grant funding to start the Wall Archery Range. The range will be complete by November 2017.
Community Calendar: WEDC created a community calendar to help encourage community collaboration and increase community awareness of events, which can be found at THIS LINK.
Youth Center: WEDC is working with Wall School students and staff to create a community youth center. We will continue to work on this project into 2017.
Community Marketing: WEDC worked with Black Hills Video to complete the “Why Wall” marketing video, which can be found at THIS LINK:
Website Upgrades: WEDC has helped make several upgrades to the www.wallsd.us webpage. We plan to make more upgrades following the Marketing Hometown America community engagement process.
Community Profile: WEDC has created a thorough Community Profile, outlining several pieces of information about the community. The Community Profile will be updated in 2017, and can be found at THIS LINK.
Business Retention and Expansion
School-to-work: WEDC worked with the Wall School staff to re-start Wall’s school-to-work program. The goals of this program are to help students explore career fields as well as expose students to the vast career opportunities in Wall. There are currently four students in the program.
Build Dakota Scholarship Roadshow: WEDC worked with the Build Dakota Scholarship Roadshow team to present information about tech school scholarship opportunities to Wall’s sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Business Development Classes
- Small Business Beginnings: From January to March 2016, WEDC, the Badlands Bad River Economic Development Partnership and SDSU Extension held “Small Business Beginnings” classes, a series designed to teach participants how to start and maintain a small business. There were 25 participants for the entire series. There were almost 40 participants for a special social media workshop offered within the series. Three new businesses started following these classes, and several more are continuing work on their business plans.
- “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map":WEDC partnered with BBR to help businesses get found on Google Search and Maps by hosting this workshop.
- Social Media Training – Intro to Facebook: WEDC partnered with BBR to hold a social media workshop, designed to help businesses create and update a Facebook page.
Dakota Rising Fellowship: WEDC had the opportunity to help one business owner apply for the Dakota Rising Fellowship program, a program designed to help second-stage entrepreneurs bring their business to the next level. WEDC hopes to encourage several more entrepreneurs to apply for the Dakota Rising Fellowship in 2017!
Ribbon Cutting: WEDC, in partnership with the City of Wall and the Chamber, celebrated new business openings with ribbon cutting ceremonies. WEDC held ribbon cuttings for the Wall Car Care Center, M&M Sales, Vintage Soule and the relocation of Farm Bureau Insurance.
Held the First WEDC Annual Meeting
WEDC held its first annual meeting on November 16th, 2016. 32 community members attended to share in the conversation about WEDC’s year one accomplishments and future plans.
Plans for 2017
WEDC has BIG plans for 2017, and we look forward to achieving our goals alongside all of our hardworking, dedicated community members.
In 2017, we plan to:
- Continue to aggressively pursue housing development projects
- Apply to the South Dakota Housing Opportunity Fund to fund a housing project
- Finish the Wall Archery Range
- Continue community development projects such as: The Mailbox Project, Wall in the Fall, Archery Day, Home for the Holidays and Coffee and Calendars
- Continue working with the Badlands Community Farmers Market team to bring the farmers market to Wall in 2017
- Improve Small Business Saturday participation
- Complete the Marketing Hometown America community engagement process
- Update the Community Profile
- Engage the agriculture community with economic development efforts
- Bring more business development classes to the community, such as QuickBooks and Website Development
- Provide entrepreneurship opportunities for community members
- Continue working with Wall School staff and students to bring the Wall Youth Center to life
- Continue working with Wall School staff to enhance the school-to-work program
- Become a valued and trusted resource provider
- Hold a second strategic planning session, following the ideas presented by the Marketing Hometown America community engagement process
- Continue to connect with businesses and pursue business retention and expansion
- Continue to seek out business attraction opportunities
- Continue to do our best to improve the overall quality of life in Wall
These are just a few of our 2017 goals. We are excited for the future of WEDC and the community of Wall!
If you are interested in learning more about WEDC and our goals or projects, or would like to be involved, never hesitate to contact me.
As always, thank you for being such a great community. It is because of you we have it all in Wall!
WEDC Executive Director