Elevate - January 2021

Page 1


Volume 2. Issue No. 1

On Tap At

Pour 54 The Monument's Expansion

Arena Update

Rushmore Mall Reinvents Itself


Nichole Yost looks ahead after a challenging year of working in a New York COVID-19 unit and rebuilding her business from destruction.


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JAN. 2021 9


Volume 2 Issue No. 1


Rushmore Mall reinvents itself to attract new shops


New Rapid City arena expects to be fully enclosed by late April



Community members reflect on their journeys today, as they look to turn the page on a pandemic that changed our lives.



Omnitech's Jeremy Warner is helping link software professionals in the area.


Nichole Yost, Owner of BeautyMed, prepares a shot of Botox for a customer. Yost has experienced a challenging year but is optimistic about the future. Read her story on page 22.

4 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021




View the full economic indicators report at elevaterapidcity.com

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Darren Haar // Board Chair


In 2018 our community formed Elevate Rapid City with the grand vision of taking community and economic development to the next level, and to ultimately improve the lives and livelihood of all people in our community. A grand vision without the efforts and progress of a strong group of people to execute on the plan is nothing more than a wish. In 2019 and 2020 we have seen the coalescing of a great team under the leadership of a very strong leader at Elevate Rapid City — and the timing could not be better. At this point in time, I think it should be clear to all of us that things are changing in Rapid City. We collectively have great opportunities to deliver on our vision for all of the people in our community and for people that would want to make Rapid City their home. Over the last year, I've had the privilege to get to know and work with the Elevate staff and to see the energy and skill of this team. As the incoming Chair of Elevate Rapid City, I'm asking for continued community support. Ultimately, we all have to work together to achieve the vision and goals of Elevate. We need your skills, thoughts, and resources. There is a lot to look forward to in 2021 as we work to elevate the region, for all.

- Darren Haar

6 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021


Elevate is a monthly publication produced by Elevate Rapid City. It is the premier business magazine for the Black Hills region telling the stories that make our area unique and vibrant. PO Box 747, Rapid City, SD 57709 605.343.1744 // elevaterapidcity.com

ON THE COVER Nichole Yost settles in at her new location for BeautyMed located on Sheridan Lake Road. Photo by Andy Greenman



DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT So happy to see this project in this lot is happening, and even happier to see that a good developer is doing it! - Dalton Lyons

December 30

We're proud to help develop the downtown community! - Lloyd Companies 2020 SPIRIT OF ENTERPRISE AWARD Can’t think of a more deserving recipient - and the Black Hills is better for it! Congratulations, Brian Rupert! - Dani Mason Congrats to Hill City's own! - Hill City Chamber of Commerce RAPID CITY RUSH Great guy, even better coach!!! - Marcus Ortiz Loved when he was in Evansville. What a man on the ice and off. You have a good coach with him there. - Jackie Knight FREEPLAY TECH Andrew and Ed are the real deal. Congratulations and best of luck. - Brian G. Butterfield


Hotel Alex Johnson's New Year's Eve

Celebrate New Year's Eve at Hotel Alex Johnson with live music by Flannel, a ping pong shootout, live dj's, midnight ball drop and more. Learn more at visitrapidcity.com.

December 30

LUWOW into 2021

Join the annual New Year’s Eve bash at WaTiki Waterpark with a balloon drop, dance party with Hot 93.1, movie's, prize giveaways, and more! Learn more at visitrapidcity.com.

January 2

An Arrow's Journey

The Journey Museum & Learning Center welcome you to STEAM Saturday. At 10:45 a.m. 1:30 p.m. you have a chance to solve the mystery of an arrowhead's history like a real archaeologist. Learn more at journeymuseum.org.

January 6, 8, 9

Rapid City Rush vs. Allen Americans

Face off is at 7:05 p.m. each night. On January 8, the Rush will feature fun activities for all children as Nugget, the beloved mascot, has a birthday party. On January 9, the Rush will honor and salute all those involved in our community's front-line efforts against COVID-19 with "Local Heroes Night. Purchase tickets in advance at rapidcityrush.com.

January 11

B-21 Industry Outreach Forum

Businesses are invited learn more about the B-21 roll out and the contract opportunities that will be available at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Learn more about the free event at elevaterapidcity.com/events.

January 29

Deadwood Snocross Showdown

The ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross Series hits the Black Hills for the ninth annual Deadwood Snocross Showdown. Learn more at deadwood.com.

January 29 - February 6 Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/ElevateRapidCity), Instagram (@elevaterapidcity), LinkedIn (/company/elevate-rapid-city) Twitter (@Elevate_RC), and YouTube (https://bit.ly/2ABRByL). Share your thoughts and help us Elevate Rapid City together!

Just want to send a rant? Email: magazine@elevaterapidcity.com

Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo

The Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo features events, rodeos, and vendors. The region's largest trade show, livestock sales, and competitions and is one of the top 5 indoor PRCA rodeos in the country. Learn more at blackhillsstockshow.com.

Have you recently moved to Rapid City as a remote worker? We'd love to hear about your experience. Email: magazine@elevaterapidcity.com

elevaterapidcity.com 7

share the warmth. Many families in our community are experiencing financial hardships and struggling to pay their energy bills. Black Hills Cares* is a way for you to help our neighbors in need. Whether it’s a one-time or monthly donation, we’ll match your gift dollar-for-dollar. To donate, visit blackhillsenergy.com/bhcares.

*Black Hills Cares is a program of the Black Hills Corp. Foundation, a 501©(3) nonprofit. Contributions to the Foundation may be tax deductible to the donor. ©87108_20

8 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021


Rushmore Mall reinvents itself to attract new shops

The Ink Gallery

by Siandhara Bonnet, Rapid City Journal Staff / Photos by Grace Pritchett


bout 20 businesses found a home at Rushmore Mall in 2020, many of which opened their doors in the final months of the year. Rushmore Mall general manager Sandy Brockhouse said the mall is changing with the times and will continue that in 2021. “We try to think outside the box of malls in general. We are reinventing ourselves,” she said. Brockhouse wants the mall to be like a community center that offers amenities like the dog park and services like those offered by the Social Security Administration office, which is open by appointment only during the pandemic. Brockhouse said the mall closed for a month due to COVID-19 but all stores are open now and there's still space available to lease. “We didn’t get hit as hard as other states and communities,” she said. “I think you can attribute that to just the great people in our community who still support all of our local businesses.” Mountain Mudd Coffee and Espresso is just one of the newest additions to Rushmore Mall along with Barbed Wire and Lace, and Chuck Wagon. “We have forthcoming leases that are hopefully going to be coming soon,” Brockhouse said. “We’re ready to get 2020 over with — we’re ready for the new year.” elevaterapidcity.com 9


Robo Briks & Graffix Robo Briks & Grafix, The Ink Gallery, The Green Chili Shack, Go! Calendars and Games, and 605 Ageless Beauty Cart are some of the newest additions to bookend 2020.

"What we found is when the pandemic hit, people were hoarding toilet paper but then they switched to hoarding Lego." -Joanne Felix Kunz Owner, Robo Briks & Grafix

Joanne Felix Kunz, owner of Robo Briks & Grafix — a store that sells Lego sets, Lego compatible bricks and minifigurines — said it’s been difficult to get inventory during the pandemic but opened its doors at the end of October. “What we found is when the pandemic hit, people were hoarding toilet paper but then they switched to hoarding Lego, and they were buying big sets,” Kunz said. “We went from selling bulk...and mini figures to selling big sets. We couldn’t keep the sets in stock.” To protect people in the store against the virus, only 12 people are allowed in the 2700-square-foot store at a time. Everything is spaced out to keep six feet of distance. Kunz said masks aren’t required, but are encouraged. She also said they’re holding off 10 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

605 Ageless Beauty

on hosting birthday parties until at least January, although that’s not set in stone. The Ink Gallery owner Cris Valle said his art-appreciation themed store has exceeded customer expectations after opening at the end of October. The Ink Gallery is a tattoo and piercing shop that sells t-shirts, posters, canvas prints and other art designed by tattoo artists and painters. “Not everyone wants a tattoo, but they can appreciate something on canvas that they can hang up in their living room,” Valle said. He said this is his eighth or ninth tattoo shop and he owns Old School Tattoo in Sturgis. He said he just had to close two shops like The Ink Gallery in Colorado Springs, Colorado, due to the pandemic. He said the mall manager and the assistant mall manager walked into his shop in Sturgis. They got to talking about his business and expanding to the mall, exchanged contact information, talked prices, and Valle said it was a “no-brainer.” “This is more of a commercial style tattoo shop, it’s designed to be in the mall,” he said. Valle said he and another artist do the tattoos and piercings while someone else helps with the counter. He said tattoo parlors aren’t too busy during the holidays as a general rule of thumb, but since they’re in a mall, they get enough

exposure from people walking past. Shay Renée, owner of the 605 Ageless Beauty kiosk, said she opened her first business at the mall Oct. 25. Renée sells skin and hair care products. The skin care line has minerals from the Dead Sea and has won awards for its ability to be used by multiple skin types. She said she also sells anti-aging products that serve as an alternative to botox and plastic surgery. “When I can take lines of puffiness off of a girl’s face and she’s crying at my kiosk, falling in love with something for something that transforms her face in front of her eyes, that’s what makes me happy,” Renée said.

"Something that transforms her face in front of her eyes, that’s what makes me happy." - Shay Renée Owner, 605 Ageless Beauty

She said she previously worked in the mall and there were times last year in October and November where it was completely silent. This year, though, she said she's seen a steady flow of people walking through. Brockhouse said the mall showed significant growth in its third quarter, and that it isn’t going anywhere.

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New Rapid City arena expects to be fully enclosed by late April

Photo by Andy Greenman

by Rushmore Plaza Civic Center


t has been just over a year since ground was broken on the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, future home of The Monument’s expansion arena, and the aggressive construction schedule will continue into the fall of 2021. The pandemic has had little impact to the overall construction schedule at this time. Rather the impacts have been felt in job site protocols put in place to help keep workers safe and reevaluation of some design elements. An example of which was to incorporate more touchless systems throughout the facility.

12 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

Construction activities that are in progress include: teel Structure– Crane teams continue to S erect the steel trussing and are on target to have this phase of the project completed in early February. Enclosure – As the trussing has been placed it has been immediately followed up with crews working on both the ceiling enclosures and wall panels. Full enclosure is expected to occur by late April. Dry Wall & Interior Finishes – This is a continuous process that has already started in areas enclosed and protected by precast. As the enclosure becomes complete, crews will begin working their way up, ultimately finishing up on the upper premium levels towards the second quarter of 2021.

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Self serve, South Dakota specials

on tap at Pour 54


By Main Street Square

sitting at tables and couldn’t get a beer, so rian Dadah has been in the Food I started doing research on how to fix our and Beverage Industry in Rapid City since 1992, but his family has been issue,” stated Brian. His research took him to First Draft in Denver, Colorado. “I literally serving the community since 1987. drove six hours, poured half a beer, watched Trends in the industry have changed several the vibe in the room and drove back to Rapid times in the 28 years Dadah has been in the City, I knew we had to bring industry and most recently this idea to Rapid City.” the COVID-19 pandemic has "I literally drove six hours, poured The Dadahs brought the forced restaurants and bars half a beer, watched the vibe in to change how they handle new idea and technology the room and drove back to Rapid to Pauly’s which helped the customer interaction. But business, but there was so Dadah and his family had an City, I knew we had to bring this much more opportunity than idea of changing the game in idea to Rapid City." Pauly’s could handle. “We Rapid City years before the -Brian Dadah, ran into hurdles with change. pandemic. Owner, Pour 54 In 2014, Dadah realized We already had staff and Pauly's Pizzeria & Sub processes and our customers were conditioned to how we had always Co. was growing fast and the customer experience was being lost. “We were so busy done things. This idea needed a whole new identity,” stated Brian. From that moment the one day that we pulled the bartender on duty off the bar to help in the kitchen because idea of Pour 54 and a downtown taphouse we were struggling to keep up. That created began to gain momentum. another problem as now we had patrons Opening a new taphouse/restaurant during

elevaterapidcity.com 15

a pandemic seemed risky; however, the idea that Brian and his daughter Hope had been working on for years fit the demand of what was the new normal. “We had spent the past two years using the IPourIt system at Pauly’s, but the idea of indirect serving was what people wanted. And we were prepared to give it to Rapid City and the visitors at the right time,” said Hope. “Our guests now have the freedom to order food when they want and try as many beers as they want — without waiting,” added Hope. "Our guests now have the freedom to order food when they want and try as many beers as they want — without waiting." -Hope Dadah, Brian's Daughter

Pour 54 is unique because it brings all South Dakota beers that are distributed within the region under one roof. “The entire idea of the taphouse was to feature South Dakota breweries but with the growth of craft beer in the region, we were able to expand our selection. We understand that Rapid City has a large tourism base, and we can give them 54 options most of which are from this area,” mentioned Hope. What makes the IPourIt system so unique is that each tap line is connected to a computer and it can gauge exactly how much of any beer is poured and at what time. This idea allows the owners to make business decisions based on analytics. “We can now make decisions based on what the customer wants. They have the freedom to choose what they want to drink which helps us ensure we have it available. It also helps the regional brewers. It's what we wanted Pour 54 to be from the beginning,” added Brian. 16 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021



Pauly’s got its name from the original owner Paul who is Brian’s Dad. Brian’s brother is also named Paul. The renovation of the 100-year-old building unearthed an original mural for Owl Cigars from the early 1900’s which is located upstairs in the remodeled space. There are only a handful of these signs remaining in the U.S. Any of the 54 taps are poured using an RFID wristband. Simply hold the wristband to the pad above the tap and pour as much as you would like. Each table in the restaurant has a unique QR code on it and a customer can scan the code to read the menu and order from their phone. “The biggest misconception of indirect serving is that we don’t have to hire staff — that is incorrect. Staff is available to answer any questions about the beer wall or any beers on tap,” stated Hope Dadah.

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Government Affairs Connection:

Legislative Process 101 by Elevate Rapid City


LEGISLATIVE PROCESS 101 Legislative leaders will answer your questions!


“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill…” those catchy lines from Schoolhouse Rock taught many how a bill becomes a law. Considering it came out in 1976, it’s fair to say we all may need a refresher on the legislative process. As citizen legislators pack up to head to Pierre to represent you for the 96th Legislative Session, Elevate Rapid City (ERC) invites you to attend Legislative Process 101. This free virtual event will break down the legislative process and give you tools to stay connected and engaged in the process. You’ll also learn about the work ERC does to advocate for probusiness and quality of life issues. Join the upcoming Government Affairs Connection on Thursday, January 7 at 8:00 a.m. Register for free at elevaterapidcity.com/events!

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NEW YEAR NEW OUTLOOK Community members reflect on their journeys to today, as they look to turn the page on a pandemic that changed our lives. 20 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

Kory Hammerbeck Operations Manager, Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative

What was your first job?

My first job was working on the family farm in central South Dakota, where I started to drive tractors and do field work at 8 years of age. At the time I always wondered why I had to work and all my friends were playing summer sports, but looking back this was my parents setting me up to have a good work ethic and learning responsibility at a young age. I think I could have waited for that lesson until I was older!

Tell us about your current job?

When most people think of an electric cooperative they think of linemen, and rightfully so, that’s what the public sees. We at Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative work behind the scenes to help our distribution cooperatives keep the lights on, from designing substations and power lines, buying and selling wholesale power, communications systems, and computer systems there is a lot more going on in the energy sector than most people know. My position at Rushmore is to oversee the technologies that we and our distribution cooperatives elect to use is up and running when they need it. We call it a lifestyle, not a job. Yes we have set hours on any given day, but when bad weather comes we are at work, no matter the time or date. The reward for me comes from many angles, from the great people that I work with, the daily learning that occurs, and knowing that our members have their power on.

How has 2020 changed you?

"I look at every day as an opportunity to improve yourself, those around you, and hopefully improve the lives of people you may never meet." - Kory Hammerbeck Photo by Andy Greenman

2020 was a challenging year from the business side of things, as I work in an industry that is deemed critical infrastructure and not being at work is not an option. We sent those that we could to work from home and those challenges continue to this day. On a personnel level, 2020 really made me reflect on how good I really have it, I feel blessed just to have a job, not all can say that in these times.

Why are you excited for 2021?

I’m excited for everyday! If you were to meet me and ask how I’m doing, my answer is always the same, “It’s the best day of my life until tomorrow.” I look at every day as an opportunity to improve yourself, those around you, and hopefully improve the lives of people you may never meet. Positive attitudes are contagious!

Why do you live in Rapid City?

I moved to Rapid City 21 years ago because I have two brothers that live here. At the time it was just another stop on my journey. But the small town feeling, great weather, outdoor activities, and great people of Rapid City made it my home.

elevaterapidcity.com 21

Nichole Yost Owner and Medical Director, BeautyMed

What was your first job?

My first job was approximately one thousand years ago (Botox works!). I’ve literally done everything. Professional au pair, stewardess on a private yacht, teacher, mental health counselor, owned a bar/restaurant, rental properties, flipped houses, lobbied on Capitol Hill for affordable housing, held public office, and an extensive healthcare career at Indian Health Services in Eagle Butte and Pine Ridge. The road less traveled to owning my own health and aesthetics clinic was paved with diversified experiences and confirms daily it’s exactly what I was meant to do. Photo by Andy Greenman


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Tell us about your current job?

My current position at BeautyMed entails medical aesthetics which involves many anti-aging methods including but not limited to: cosmetic and medically therapeutic Botox, dermal fillers, Kybella, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), vitamin injections, IV infusions, weight loss, hormone replacement therapy, vaginal/urinary rejuvenation, microneedling, chemical peels, and limited family practice. My position is the most rewarding career I could ever hope for. I’ve had my own journey with health issues and medical neglect in myself and family members, some of which resulted in death. I’m extremely passionate about listening, validating, and treating the patient, not just the “numbers.”

"I took a contract in Brooklyn, New York in an emergency room COVID-19 unit for eight weeks. It was a war zone where not one day felt as though we could win or get ahead of the battle."

How has 2020 changed you?

The beginning of 2020 brought me into my one-year anniversary owning an aesthetics and healthcare-based business. I had far exceeded my professional goals when COVID-19 hit the United States and threatened the reality of closing my non-essential business. With that fear, I took a contract in Brooklyn, New York in an emergency room COVID-19 unit for eight weeks. It remains quite difficult to put that experience into words. It was a war zone where not one day felt as though we could win or get ahead of the battle. Three days after I arrived home from the East Coast, my spa was demolished in a hailstorm where the building’s roof fell in on my newly remodeled space. I then spent the rest of the summer in a temporary office as I searched for the place BeautyMed would call home. Although COVID-19 has greatly threatened the economy, BeautyMed continued to grow exponentially and needed a much larger space and a staff of nurses to assist in the growing numbers of procedures. Outreach clinics are gaining popularity in Phillip, Pierre, and we have events scheduled in Sioux Falls in January. We are also connected to a rural injector providing services in Faith, Eagle Butte, Mobridge, and Lemmon. November 20, 2020 we had a grand opening at our new location in Stoney Creek Plaza on Sheridan Lake Road and Catron Boulevard. We are so grateful for immense growth in 2020 and support from the community and those traveling from many hours for our services.

Photo by Andy Greenman

Why are you excited for 2021?

2021 is on target to be our best year yet! We rocked 2020 with record breaking sales almost weekly so the newness and positivity 2021 will bring is sure to catapult increased success. March 2021 will mark two years of business. We are truly fortunate and blessed that our hard work and continuous training is recognized and greatly supported by the community of Rapid City.

Why do you live in Rapid City?

I’m originally from central South Dakota and spent the last few years living west river as a healthcare professional. I chose to live in Rapid City as my friends and I were all traveling to other cities and states to receive upscale aesthetics treatments and felt Rapid City would greatly benefit from a friendly, affordable, and personal patient experience focusing on our unique skin types and aging processes to provide the greatest benefit to our population. I also believe in providing improved and personalized access to care to all populations with family practice services.

elevaterapidcity.com 23


Member SIPC

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24 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021




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A N N UA L LY 2 elevaterapidcity.com 25

"I love that I can access great hiking and cross-country skiing locations within minutes of my front door."

Jessica Ibanez Business Development and Technology Sales, Omnitech

How has 2020 changed you?

What was your first job?

I grew up on a small family farm in Frederick, South Dakota. My first job was helping with chores around the farm. I fed bottle calves, drove tractors, sorted cattle, and did most any odd job my dad could find for me. He valued nature, hard work, finding the humor in all things, and being a good neighbor. I feel that working on the farm helped develop those values in me.

Tell us about your current job?

I work in business development and technology sales for Omnitech, a South Dakota based software engineering company. Omnitech was founded in 1998, and for the first twenty years of its existence, it was focused on providing support to businesses in the eastern part of South Dakota. In 2018, Omnitech opened a second location in Rapid City upon noticing a need for its services in west river. They have a strong focus on honesty and integrity when working with clients, each other, and the communities they serve. I’m grateful to be a part of the Omnitech team.

26 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

The biggest change to my daily life has been the increased need to be adaptable. Whether it’s finding new ways to engage with clients through virtual meetings or attending zoom happy hours with friends. 2020 has definitely pushed technology to the forefront of everyone’s mind and it’s been interesting to see how so many companies and people have adapted.

Why are you excited for 2021?

Traveling is my hobby and my greatest passion. Each year I try to travel to at least one country I’ve never visited. COVID-19 caused all my 2020 travel plans to be postponed and I’m getting a little stir crazy. I’m really hoping that 2021 gives me the opportunity to travel internationally again.

Why do you live in Rapid City?

The quality of life. I spent a decade living in downtown Minneapolis before moving back to South Dakota a few years ago. Living in a Minneapolis has its advantages, but it was difficult to feel connected with the community and access to hiking and cross-country skiing often involved a two-plus hour car ride. I have found the people living in the Black Hills to be incredibly kind and welcoming; and I love that I can access great hiking and crosscountry skiing locations within minutes of my front door.

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"We still have our live music every Saturday night. I refuse to give it up, no matter how slow it gets." 28 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

Photo by Andy Greenman

Why are you excited for 2021?

Jerry Sailer Owner and Operator, Black Hills Contraband

What was your first job?

Tell us about your current job?

My current job is to make, bottle and sell Contraband flavored liqueurs. I take our raw ingredients and blend them together to create our main product. Then I hand bottle each and every bottle and label all our bottles. We also run a full service tasting room and bar with live events, such as comedy shows, live bands, karaoke, along with a kitchen menu. I get to interact with locals, and tourists everyday. It is work, but its a work that is fun, and the friendships we have made are worth it.

How has 2020 changed you?

2020 has not changed me one little bit. I'm still the same fun, grumpy, storytelling old man I always have been. With the job, things have changed somewhat. We faced the shutdown early this year, then the massive tourism rush throughout summer, and now with winter and the COVID-19 slowdown we have learned to change things. We still have our live music every Saturday night. I refuse to give it up, no matter how slow it gets. Karaoke has ramped up quite a bit, but most of all we have been thankful for our dart leagues that play four nights a week. We are still cleaning daily have great customer service like we did before COVID-19.

Why do you live in Rapid City?

I was born and raised here in Rapid City, but after some interesting life choices I decided it had to get better than this, so I moved away for four years. I can tell you I was wrong. It did not get better. It got bigger, more crowded, more expensive, more crime ridden, and never get better. The only thing that was better was that I met my wonderful wife while away and for that I am grateful. However the best decision I ever made was to move back to Rapid City after the loss of my mother 26 years ago. I was able to be near my father, who passed away this year. Now I could not ever imagine living anywhere else. The people here are friendly, caring, and there is more things to do here than anywhere else I have been. I always say why live anywhere else? If you have it perfect here why leave?

elevaterapidcity.com 29

Photo by Andy Greenman

My first job was working for my father's paint company when I was six years old. He grew up on a farm in North Dakota, and his dad felt if you could go to school you could also work. My dad felt the same, so when I wasn't in school I was working on his job sites. He was a painter, so I had to clean the site and learn to paint. But he also paid me a wage to learn a trade as he put it. Then when I was in high school he would make me have a different job each winter so that I could learn different trades and learn to respect other people for their jobs. At the time I hated all of it, but later in life I respected what he did for me. He taught me multiple trades and to respect all jobs and the people that do them.

To see the end of this mixed up year. Our start in 2020 looked to be a great year for us, with the first two months seeing a fantastic increase in sales. Then COVID-19 hit and the bottom dropped out. So I am expecting to see a slow start to the year, but I'm hopeful for a great summer and fall this coming year. I expect us to finally get past this current event and move on to a stronger tourist season than we have had.


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"The greater Rapid City area is on the cusp of a very significant period of growth in terms of population, economy and quality of life."

Steve Allender Mayor of Rapid City

What was your first job?

I worked for a tractor and implement dealer the summer I turned 15. I ran errands, cleaned up and made minor repairs to used tractor bodies. I also painted old tractors — all for $2 per hour. The lesson from that experience was that no matter how small the responsibility, there is always a legacy left behind. For years, I saw those tractors around town and recognized some of my work. It helped cement the memories of working there. My boss, a great guy named Sebastian, gave a know-nothing kid responsibility and I did the best I could. I learned and grew from it. There were no meaningless moments, I hope, for either of us.

How has 2020 changed you?

If I’m being honest, it’s been a rough and thoroughly disappointing year. The past five years have been a productive and rewarding time, but some of that has been stalled or reversed this year. The pandemic and the tremendous amount of stress it has inflicted on the community has changed us, at least temporarily. Rapid City is still doing well because of each individual’s effort, rather than a collective team effort. The mask debate is the most prominent symptom of how we are feeling this year, but it’s not the only symptom. We are polarized and politicized and in some cases paralyzed. I know we are resilient and that alone is reason to believe we will come out of this stronger than before. When the pandemic season has passed, picking up the pieces will be important, providing we can find the pieces. If I’m not being honest, 2020 hasn’t changed me or my role at all.

Why are you excited for 2021?

I believe 2021 will mark the beginning of a new chapter for Rapid City. The housing and construction industries are surging, the B-21 bomber contractors and airman are already arriving, and the greater Rapid City area is on the cusp of a very significant period of growth in terms of population, economy and quality of life. Years from now, we will look back on 2021 as the year of positive change, and to be able to be a part of it is truly an honor.

Why do you live in Rapid City?

The variety. I can choose from a hundred different things to do, drive there and start doing those things within an hour or two, almost any day of the year. Our access to outdoor activities is among the best in the world and I see this as a gift. But just as importantly, the people here are among the friendliest anywhere. Rapid City is everyone’s home town, because when you are here, you are among friends. Rapid City is an easy place to love.

elevaterapidcity.com 31

Ericka Amborn Senior Engineer, Applied Research Associates

What was your first job?

When I was 14, I was a housekeeper at a bed & breakfast up in the hills. I got to do all the chores I hated doing at home for $5.15/hour. Special duties involved dusting the mounted buffalo head while avoiding eye contact and trapping giant wolf spiders. (My husband appreciates my spider trapping skills now.)

Tell us about your current job?

I’m part of a problem solving team. We use a variety of engineering tools including finite element simulations to understand complex dynamic impact phenomena and make structural risk assessments. Currently, I’m leading a project in which we use computer simulations to design and build representative small-scale tests to understand phenomenon that occur in much larger systems. These small-scale tests allow us to isolate and observe different pieces of the puzzle so we can figure out what’s really going on at a fraction of the cost of a fullscale test. I really enjoy all of the technical challenges we face. We’re reaching into the unknown in some areas and it’s exciting to dig into the models and find out what the real problem is and then figure out how to fix it.

"I’m also excited to actually know what someone’s entire face looks like after I meet them."

32 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

How has 2020 changed you?

My job didn’t change much, I just do it from home more often than I used to and at weird hours. For me personally, this year has been a lesson in setting boundaries and accepting good-enough. I wish I could say that I have them mastered but I’m definitely still working on the skills. I have a two-year-old son and when our daycare closed in March, it put us in a tough spot. My husband and I were very fortunate that we could both work from home, but a toddler doesn’t always make that easy. He’s a pretty busy little guy and it’s a full time job to educate, wrangle, police, and play with him. I knew immediately that if I tried to multitask I would not be able to give my son or my work the attention they required. So I shifted my schedule to work afternoons and nights and set firm times when I was just being mom. Even though it was challenging to do both, I am thankful that I got to spend as much time with my son this year as I did. He grew and changed so much, so quickly it was such a joy to be there and be present in the moment.

Why are you excited for 2021?

I’m excited to be able to drop in and see a bunch of my family that we’ve not been able to visit over the past year. I’m also excited to actually know what someone’s entire face looks like after I meet them.

Why do you live in Rapid City?

I live in Rapid City because I love the Black Hills! I grew up here and moved away to live in other cities for about 10 years, but the Hills have some magic in them that always lured me back. In 2016, we took an opportunity to return and I think it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. It’s been great to be back close to family and I’m excited to raise my son here. I also like my easy traffic-free commute.

Photo by Andy Greenman

"This year has been a lesson in setting boundaries and accepting goodenough."

elevaterapidcity.com 33

"It is important for us all to acknowledge the difficulty of the moment we are in, cut each other some slack, and practice compassion."

Don Hedrick Chief of Police, Rapid City

How has 2020 changed you?

What was your first job?

Growing up in a farming community, many kids learn the value of hard work at an early age. I can remember many hours of bailing hay and picking rocks in the scorching summer heat, leaving an appreciation for rolling up your sleeves and getting to work, despite the task being challenging or uncomfortable. There was no room for complaining or for being too tired; the work needed to get done and through this lifestyle, you learned to appreciate a job well done. Honest, hardworking people can teach you a lot about life and how you control your attitude; values and experiences like these always stick with you.

Tell us about your current job?

Police work is a unique profession and law enforcement is facing challenges on many levels today. I appreciate working with a pretty amazing team here at the RCPD, serving our community and striving for positive change. As for me, I enjoy working on the challenges we are currently facing and doing what I can to make life better for the City of Rapid City as well as our hard working, dedicated police officers. Ultimately, I want a brighter future for all of our families and I am excited to have a role in such an amazing City.

34 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

COVID-19 has challenged all of us in major ways and it threw a curve ball at the law enforcement profession. It has caused us to re-evaluate nearly every aspect of our responses to ensure we are doing what we can to keep the community we serve healthy, as well as ensuring we are keeping ourselves healthy. Additionally, this year the RCPD has witnessed localized civil unrest, conversations on police defunding, a spike in violence over the summer, contention regarding national politics, and the continual changes we have implemented while continuing to work through a pandemic. For the most part, police work remains an occupation that did not halt despite these challenges as calls for service continue to come in. Our Department has to be adaptable and therefore, I believe it has made us more resilient and able to adjust to change. It is important for us all to acknowledge the difficulty of the moment we are in, cut each other some slack, and practice compassion; these are strong traits and they will help pull us through this moment in time.

Why are you excited for 2021?

I believe we should all make a New Year’s resolution to be kind to one another moving forward! We are all in this together, and I look forward to healthier days, as I believe they are coming for our community soon.

Why do you live in Rapid City?

Like any city, Rapid City has its own unique challenges. Despite this, I think we have some pretty amazing accomplishments to be proud of. Rapid City continues to grow and strive and there are some pretty exciting projects being implemented and on the horizon. Personally, from the perspective of Police Chief, I have appreciated the strong community support we have witnessed throughout this year and recognize how many police departments do not enjoy this luxury. With this in mind, and through recognition that trust is fragile, we will continue to be transparent and do the right things for the right reasons, one interaction at a time.

Larry Larson Mayor of Box Elder

What was your first job?

My first job was working at a movie theater. But within days I had a second job at a gas station. What I learned from both jobs was to be courteous and friendly to everyone. Back then gas stations were full service so you wanted to make sure you had done everything from check the oil to wash the windows. I enjoyed both jobs even though they were quite different. Meeting and talking to different people was a great start to the careers that followed, teaching, school administration, school board and mayor.

Tell us about your current job?

2020 has been a challenge due to COVID-19. Our budget had to be cut and put on hold in some areas because of the lower amounts of revenue coming in. All our community events were changed due to the face masks and social distancing issues. We had to continue providing the services the residents expected while keeping everyone safe.

How has 2020 changed you?

Box Elder is moving forward with a number of projects that are very exciting. One of them is the Liberty Plaza that will occupy the 110 acres across from the golf course. This will be home to a new community center that will take the place of the Pride Hanger on the Ellsworth Air Force Base (EAFB). The Pride Hanger will be changed back to a hanger for the new B-21 Raider. The new facility will be located off the base in this new Liberty Plaza development and will also be open to our community. This building will have an indoor track and numerous other workout areas. At the same time there is another event center being built at exit 61, just to the south of the new Courtyard Hotel by Marriot. The Box Elder Event Center is a private/public partnership between LIV Hospitality and the city. It will be the size of 3 basketball courts and should bring numerous events into the city which

will bring in needed sales tax. We are hoping that 2021 allows everyone to get back to normal as COVID-19 should be on a downward trend with the vaccinations becoming available. We have a number of exciting events planned for the year and are hoping that EAFB will finally get to participate along with the local community. 2021 should bring with it further announcements of the B-21 plans. Things will start to happen on the base as things start to move forward. This of course brings exciting things for our community and the west river area as well.

Why are you excited for 2021?

I believe we should all make a New Year’s resolution to be kind to one another moving forward! We are all in this together, and I look forward to healthier days, as I believe they are coming for our community soon.

Why do you live in this region?

I love living in western South Dakota because of the things we are able do. We love four-wheeling in the Black Hills and driving the great scenic roads in the area. We love the little shops in the towns throughout the Hills and trying different restaurants as we visit.

elevaterapidcity.com 35

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elevaterapidcity.com 37


Software engineer helping connect IT community By Andy Greenman

Jeremy Warner wants to help your business grow. The software engineer with Omnitech, Inc. works alongside a small team in Rapid City that is helping area businesses and organizations with software and data solutions. While COVID-19 has slowed some businesses, Warner says that has not been the case for Omnitech. “People need help. They still need help. It hasn’t slowed down. We’re working every day to help clients solve problems and get stuff done.” Omnitech also does consulting for South Dakota businesses looking for long-term growth. They’re able to address technology needs and build custom software solutions. Warner spends his days boosting the business community, and after hours he’s contributing to build a network of software engineers. He and other members guide an informal group called Compile Black Hills. “Many businesses in Rapid The group’s City have some IT needs and purpose is to have a couple developers build a support on staff. But you don’t structure for software have enough for a strong engineers in community." the area. While -Jeremy Warner Rapid City’s population continues to increase, the number of software engineers is limited, so Warner knows how important it is to have a strong network. “Many businesses in Rapid City have some IT needs and have a couple developers on staff. But you don’t have enough for a strong community. How do you find out new things, [and] see what other developers are doing?” You gather around a cold beverage. That’s how the last few events have taken place. Employees from Black Hills Energy, Golden West Technologies, B9Creations and even remote workers take part. Notes are swapped, new friendships are created and new skills are shared, all of which are creating a better community of software engineers. COVID-19 has put the group on hold, but Warner is hopeful that he’ll be planning the next event soon. 38 ELEVATE • JAN. 2021

Jeremy Warner

THIS OR THAT Sitting Desk Standing Desk Form Function1 Dark Mode2 Light Mode Motorcycles Mountain Bikes3 Ski Snowboard Auto Manual Coffee Tea Rare Steak4 Well-Done Steak Music Podcast Dogs5 Cats

1. Sometimes form is function. In my line of work it matters if it looks good. But it matters less if it looks good and more if it works. 2. It's easier for me to look at screens in dark mode. 3. I ride both motorcycles and mountain bikes, but I'd chose the bike first. 4. Whatever they're doing at the Alpine Inn, give it to me. 5. I have both dogs and cats, but I'll chose my lab.

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