Elevate - March 2021

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MARCH 2021

Volume 2. Issue No. 3

Celtic Connection provides luck of the Irish

Stay-at-home mom turned business owner of

Western Mailers

MARCH MUNCHNESS

Erika Peterson has taken Nerdy Nuts from a garage creation to a global sensation


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SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES

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DIGNITY

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MARCH. 2021 Volume 2 // Issue No. 3

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WORKING AGAINST VIOLENCE

Founded in 1978, WAVI continues to support victims and educate our community.

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NERDY NUTS, NETFLIX AND CHILL

Entrepreneur Erika Peterson has taken her peanut butter global.

33

A TASTE OF IRISH

Siaryn Duggan brings a piece of her homeland to downtown.

MAILING IT IN

After filling in for her daughter's shift, Rosemary Harvey began working and eventually purchased Western Mailers. Read story on page 14.

4 ELEVATE • MARCH 2021


ELEVATE RAPID CITY F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 E C O N O M I C I N D I C AT O R S ECONOMY

RAPID CITY GROSS SALES $ 757,157,197

BUILDING PERMITS 247

AIRPORT PASSENGERS 23,550 REAL ESTATE

ACTIVE LISTINGS 165

MEDIAN LISTING PRICE $ 239,950

Increase over last period Decrease over last period

Monthly comparisons, industry analysis and additional economic indicators available on exclusive investor report.

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Women-owned businesses help drive local economy I’m a big fan—some might say a fan boy, of a few things in life: poetry, hiking, and, of all things, peanut butter. I can’t get enough of the stuff. As a kid, I used to mix honey and peanut butter in a vat and eat it for lunch and sometimes dinner. Chase it with some chocolate milk and—well, you just arrived in heaven, my friend. That’s why it was so cool when I got to Rapid City last year and found Nerdy Nuts, a locally produced peanut butter company. The company’s toffee peanut butter was love at first sight. With my love of peanut butter, a container lasts me only about thirty days. And my days of Jif Peanut Butter are long gone. Starting a business is tough. Starting a business in Rapid City as a woman can be even tougher. Erika Peterson and Nerdy Nuts have transcended both. With only their wits, charm, a clever marketing campaign and some of the best peanut butter in the country, the company has recently ascended like a rocket ship to the national stage. Welcome to this issue of Elevate, where we explore not just peanut butter, but a lot of things women-owned businesses have been starting (and completing). There’s the story of how Nerdy Nuts helped turn a food desert into an oasis. There’s also the story of Western Mailers, where a stay-at-home mom turned owner shows that degrees and offices aren’t necessary to build a successful business. And our story on WAVI, a local women’s domestic violence shelter, brings attention to a issue that has become more pronounced during the recent pandemic. All of these stories, and the women who drive them, elevate the region for all of us. We couldn’t be more excited. We hope you are too. Stay safe (with some Nerdy Nuts) and god-speed.

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Tom Johnson, President & CEO Dana Borowski, Director of Finance and Operations Matt Brunner, Economic Development Director Shiloh Francis, Communications Director Anna Hays, Public Policy Director Brandis Knudsen, Dir. of Small Business Development & Investor Relations Mitch Nachtigall, Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Rachel Day, Events & Training Manager Andy Greenman, Creative Services Manager Liz Highland, HR Coordinator/Office Manager Becky Knox, Executive Assistant Debbie Leber, Finance Manager & Investor Coordinator Samantha McGrath, Workforce Development & Talent Attraction Manager Loni Reichert, Data Analyst & Program Support Coordinator Design and layout: Andy Greenman Published by the Rapid City Journal Bill Masterson, Publisher, bill.masterson@bhmginc.com Advertising: Eddie Hebron, ehebron@amplifieddigitalagency.com, 605.394.8354 Printed by Simpsons Printing 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 Farmers markets to Fox Business, Erika Peterson has taken Nerdy Nuts global. Photo by Andy Greenman.


COMMENTS BLOCK FIVE DEVELOPMENT COMING DOWNTOWN

Downtown core development will strengthen our community and we have a developer with Lloyd who can get it done with quality. Bring it on #elevaterapidcity #housing - Scott Engmann Can't wait! This will be a great addition to the downtown area! - Mitchell Kessenich

WORK ACCELERATES AT ASCENT INNOVATION Great looking building! Loved your video! - Lela Lineberger Groene

CALENDAR February 27

Nemo 500 Outhouse Races

Have a family fun day at the Nemo 500 Outhouse Races and chili cook-off. Learn more at nemo500.com.

February 27 & March 6

Crackerbarrel

Crackerbarrels provide the opportunity for the Black Hills community to hear directly from area legislators and ask questions concerning issues of the 96th South Dakota Legislative Session. Learn more at elevaterapidcity.com

March 1

Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe Opening Day Local gem opens for the season. Learn more at armadillosicecreamshoppe.com.

March 5-7

Rapid City Rush vs. Grenville Swamp Rabbits SOUTH DAKOTA'S ECONOMY ROARS BACK

Growing like crazy. 2021 is going to be even better....you will be impressed - Michael Cremeans

EVERY CHILD IS SPECIAL

Awesome!!! Childcare is definitely needed! - Julie Christine

The Rapid City Rush ECHL hockey team takes on the Grenville Swamp Rabbits at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. Learn more at rapidcityrush.com.

March 6, 13, 20, 27

STEAM Saturdays

Enter a world of wonder! The Journey Museum educators create wonderfully playful and interactive learning experiences for the whole family. Learn more at journeymuseum.org.

March 6, 13, 20, 27

Black Hills Farmers Market

Black Hills Farmers Market offers locally produced foods and fine arts. The market takes place at 245 E. Omaha St., Rapid City.

March 11-14

State 8 Ball Pool Tournament

CONNECT 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!

Send us a rant: magazine@elevaterapidcity.com

The 8 Ball Pool Tournament runs March 11-14 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Learn more at gotmine.com.

March 13

Lifeways Annual Art, Music & Performance Exhibition

This annual art, music and performance exhibition amplifies youth voices. This event showcases middle school and high school students in a month-long visual art exhibition and a onenight live performance. Learn more at lifeways.us.

March 23-24

Shen Yun

Shen Yun, a nonprofit based in New York, is bringing the wonders of this ancient civilization to millions of people across the globe. Experience art that connects Heaven and Earth at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Learn more at gotmine.com

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WAVI continues to support victims and educate community

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

founded in 1978 by Kathy Peil, Pat Hinrichs n organization started by three and Margot Burton to help women and women in the late ‘70s to help children in crisis situations by providing battered women get out of abusive temporary emergency shelter, food and/ relationships has expanded into an agency helping anyone in an abusive or supportive services, and to educate the community on the issues relationship and victims of of battery. It was originally human trafficking, and to called the “Battered Women’s educate the community on "When they stay here, Task Force Organization.” abuse. they’re already being “These women saw a need, Simmons said the organization is discussing they were young themselves, uprooted, and it’s home and they stepped up and expanding further from its even if it’s temporary." Quincy Street location to have decided something needed to - Kristina Simmons an administration-dedicated be done,” WAVI development WAVI Deveopment Director director Kristina Simmons building and a shelterdedicated building. said. “I’ve talked to several of them — they’re fiery and WAVI is currently adding a shower to its downstairs bathroom. they're just grit and just amazing people... They’ve gotten to watch to see where we are “We just want to make sure when people stay here they’re as accommodated as today, and to be talking about expanding again, possible,” Simmons said. “When they stay here, they’re still part of that conversation.” WAVI, Working Against Violence, Inc., was they’re already being uprooted, and it’s home

8 ELEVATE • MARCH 2021


A paper titled "Our First Organization" from 1978 lists members of the Battered Women's Task Force at WAVI.

even if it’s temporary.” Back in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, the three women who founded the organization would put women and children in hotel rooms under fake names and their own names, and pay for it out of pocket. Simmons said from there, WAVI developed into small shelters throughout the area and have been in their Quincy Street location since 2004. She said WAVI has always served men at the shelter and in 2017 became the first shelter in the state to house men. “Really it came down to they’re all victims, they're all trying to survive, they’re all trying to move forward,” Simmons said. “Each person’s story is different and unique to their situation.” WAVI serves an average of 3,000 unduplicated people a year, but provides about 25,000 services a year, all at no cost. That includes in- out-of-shelter clients. The organization is classified as an emergency shelter and temporary shelter with 13 bedrooms for women, children and men. Support services include safety planning, domestic violence education, in-shelter children’s program, community referrals and a free 24/7 crisis line. WAVI is also able to refer

clients to the OneHeart campus. Simmons said clients usually end up leaving the Black Hills area because it’s a small, connected community. “There’s being attacked by friends and family members of an abuser, so what they have to do is start completely from scratch,” she said. She said WAVI will help them get a bus or plane ticket. They also have an attorney in the building who’s there through grant funding through the Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, a state-wide organization that aide domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Simmons said WAVI needs more funding for pro-bono attorneys because the one they have is essentially the only one West River. “What happens is a client has been stripped of all their financial resources or their credit’s been trashed and they have no choice but to go back to their abuser,” she said. “That’s the whole point is an abuser’s going to take everything away from them including their identity. … We work hard to gain identity back and also show there’s a large support network in our community and we’re going to help you.” She said they’ll work to get a client

"It came down to they’re all victims, they're all trying to survive, they’re all trying to move forward." -Kristina Simmons

elevaterapidcity.com 9


PEEK INSIDE WAVI connected with housing, employment, credit repair services, therapy and whatever else the client’s needs are. Simmons said every success story is different and based on an individual’s needs. It could be being safe for a few nights and getting away from an abuser, getting a bus ticket out of the area, finding employment and getting kids in school, and so much more.

"We work hard to gain identity back and also show there’s a large support network in our community and we’re going to help you."

GIFT ROOM

-Kristina Simmons

WAVI also works to help victims of human trafficking. Simmons said they see cases out of camps from the Dakota Access Pipeline, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and whenever there are large events in the area. She said they also work with the school system on prevention, safe relationships, and recognizing the signs of not only abusive relationships but health relationships. WAVI is located at 527 Quincy Street in Rapid City. Its office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They can be reached at the office at 605-341-3292. If you or someone you know may be a victim of domestic or sexual abuse, contact WAVI’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 605341-4808, or the toll-free crisis hotline at 1-888-716-9284. If an emergency, call 9-1-1.

10 ELEVATE • MARCH 2021

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14 ELEVATE • MARCH 2021


Rosemary Harvey puts in the time to become business owner after filling in for daughter

Story and Photos by Shiloh Francis

W

to four kids. Her daughter was working for alking into the office of Western Mailers part-time after school. Every Western Mailers on St. Joseph so often they would call the house asking if she Street, one cannot help but feel could pick up an extra shift. One day Rosemary at ease. A fireplace roars. Quilts finally asked about what the work entailed. made by the proud owner adorn the walls. “By this point my kids were in And more often than not, school and I figured maybe I you’re greeted with a smile could get a little work to help from the owner herself: Ms. support the bills,” she recalls. Rosemary Harvey. "She would let me It didn’t take long and Odds are if you find Rosemary wasn’t simply yourself at Western Mailers make mistakes." stuffing envelopes. The it’s because you already know - Rosemary Harvey current owner, Helen, was they can help, or because Owner, Western Mailers pushing her to do even more. someone sent you there. “I This was a big deal for get people out of jams,” smiles Rosemary. As an Air Force Rosemary. wife, she had spent the previous years moving and taking care of GETTING STARTED kids. She did not have a college degree nor For more than 20 years Rosemary has much work experience. The fact she was been finding solutions for customers, but her trusted to do something like bid on jobs was journey began long before that. overwhelming at first. “She would let me It was 1994, she was a stay-at-home mom

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make mistakes,” which was important to the learning and growing process. Eventually the company changed as Lee Enterprises saw direct mail was the way to go for businesses and they acquired Western Mailers. “I have always been one to save money, so I thought it was great I could work there and get my free newspaper!” She continued to learn the industry and soon they saw an opportunity to expand Western Mailers beyond the direct mail services.

"I have always been one to save money, so I thought it was great I could work there and get my free newspaper!" - Rosemary Harvey Owner, Western Mailers

“Someone recommended we look into getting an OCR – this would barcode the envelope for the Post Office,” she explained. For those in the non-postal world: the OCR is able to read the envelope (print or cursive) and then apply a barcode that tells the mail how to be sorted to put it on the right route.

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Acquiring this machine would open the door for more bidding opportunities as well as streamline the mailing process.

FROM PART-TIME TO OWNER

This opportunity for expansion also opened the door for business ownership for Rosemary. She and business partner Kreg decided to look into buying Western Mailers back from Lee Enterprises. With a conversation from her sales-savvy father as well as a loan, she went into the office and walked out a business owner. Going from a part-time employee to now business owner came with its learning curves just as one would expect. But a little hard work was not going to deter her. “You have to be willing to put in the time,” she would say to anyone wanting to be a successful business owner. And that she did! Together Kreg and Rosemary were not only able to pay back her father in full the first year. She was also able to pay herself enough to buy a new car for her and her family, as a now single mother. The two had a great dynamic: Kreg was able to manage the computers and operations side while Rosemary continued her role of being the worker bee.


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RELATIONSHIPS LEAD TO SUCCESS

Between her father’s career in sales and her time as a military wife, Rosemary was used to moving around. But after thirty years in Rapid City, it’s safe to say this is home and where she has been able to put down roots. And it is because of Rapid City she believes she has been able to be a successful businessowner. “It’s a small enough community that I know I can find someone to call to give me the answers I need,” she explains. It’s easy to build relationships from the banker to customers and from there grow her network. She would also credit her success from always putting herself in the shoes of the customer. “I ask new employees all the time, ‘How would you want to be treated if you were the customer?’” She is passionate about

"I ask new employees all the time, ‘How would you want to be treated if you were the customer?’” - Rosemary Harvey Owner, Western Mailers

not only finding ways for her customers to save money, but to always find a solution. If the postal service says no to a unique mailer, like a sandwich in a brown paper bag, she goes a step further to find out how this unique idea could become a reality. Her hard work and problem-solving is exactly why anyone who has worked with her will refer the next person. “Oh, you’re in a jam? You need to talk to Rosemary.” Western Mailers specializes is first- and thirdclass mail at a discount for anyone mailing at least 200 pieces. They provide mailing, folding, stuffing, work with local printers, as well as list verification.

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20 ELEVATE • MARCH 2021


Nerdy Nuts, Netflix, and Chill Entrepreneurs Erika Peterson and Craig Mount turned a homemade treat into a multi-million dollar business.

Story and Photos by Andy Greenman

In January, a month when fitness clubs are filled to capacity and treats are left stranded at the grocery aisle, Nerdy Nuts recorded their largest month ever. The threeyear-old specialty peanut butter company that began in a Rapid City garage continues its rise. The journey started when partners Erika Peterson and Craig Mount returned to South Dakota. They had been living in the Front Range of Colorado and chose to return to Rapid City to raise their two children. Without access to a Trader Joe’s, Sprouts or Whole Foods, Peterson chose to try her hand at making the peanut butter she was craving. They purchased a refurbished peanut grinder and began to grind peanuts from their garage. After a year of trial-and-error, perfecting and enjoying their very own peanut butter, Peterson offered her online friends and family a taste.

elevaterapidcity.com 21


“Not many people have been in our shoes before and been able to successfully able to grow a multi-million dollar company in six months and not completely tank.” - Erika Peterson, Co-founder, Nerdy Nuts

“Why not try to do something more with this, versus just having this really expensive machine in our garage,” Peterson suggested. The response was overwhelming. She purchased 50 pounds of peanuts for $130, and Nerdy Nuts was born. She quickly realized peanut butter is “an obsession… not just something they put on a piece of toast in the morning.” This realization led her to brainstorm new flavors such as white chocolate, pumpkin spice and mochas to begin selling at craft shows and farmers markets. Their audience continued to grow 22 ELEVATE • MARCH 2021

until they got the opportunity to sell wholesale to local markets including Breadroot Natural Foods, Timmon’s Market and Scheels.

PRESIDENTIAL PEANUT BUTTER

In the summer of 2019, as the Democratic Party had more presidential characters than in The Brady Bunch, Nerdy Nuts looked to capitalize. The company went nuts and packaged four different candidate flavors for the 2020 election, matching their taste buds. Warren’s Winner, a nod to Elizabeth Warren, featured


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“I did what any millennial did during Covid and I downloaded TikTok.” - Erika Peterson

strawberry frosting and sprinkles in the peanut butter. At the time, current President Trump included vanilla cookies & cream. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders had cinnamon raisins in his Fuel the Bern! peanut butter. And Joe’s Dream was a chocolate chip peanut butter honoring the 46th President. Following the release of the presidential peanut butter in August, the company would break through following a public relations push. The presidential line was featured across the country on Fox Business. Nerdy Nuts got its first taste of going viral as it sold $25,000 in just over 48 hours. The success created a lot of stress as they tried to fulfill the record setting sales. The large orders helped Nerdy Nuts hone in on their process, from ordering thousands of pounds of peanuts to packaging and shipping the product. Peterson said the presidential line also helped them realize customers “wanted something with a little more pizazz to it.” It was time to expand upon the basic flavors.

COVID-19 CHALLENGES

Nerdy Nuts continued to fulfill orders and experiment with flavors when COVID-19 rocked the retail world. Trade shows that boosted sales such as Kountry Junkin’ and the Fall and Winter Markets 24 ELEVATE • FEB. MARCH 20212021


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were canceled. While many businesses struggled and even shuttered their doors during this time, Peterson chose to ask “How do we adapt to what is changing in the world or are we going to go under?” They brainstormed ways to improve and survive throughout the pandemic. First, a new website was built through Shopify that gave users a better experience. Then, Peterson further experimented with new flavors to please their growing fanbase. Circus cookies peanut butter, chocolate cookies and cream peanut butter and monster cookie peanut butter were added to the line-up. Indulgence lovers went wild to find sprinkles, cookie chunks and marshmallow fluff in different varieties. The add-ins as Peterson calls it “put us in a completely new category.”

TIK TOK TO THE TOP

“I did what any millennial did during Covid and I downloaded TikTok,” Peterson said with a laugh. But no one is laughing at the success brought by that decision. TikTok, a social media platform that allows users to post videos up to 60 seconds, features a wide range of celebrities from Kylie Jenner to Snoop Dogg. ‘TikTokers’ with thousands and even millions of followers can help endorse a product for the right price, what is better known as an influencer.

26 ELEVATE • MARCH 2021

Peterson reached out to three influencers ‘that sparked joy in her life,’ and asked if she could send them some peanut butter. All three received the package and enlightened their massive followings to Nerdy Nuts. Ali Grace Morsell (705,000 followers), Christine Snaps (4.5 million followers), and White Lake’s Hailey Peters (945,000 followers) introduced Nerdy Nuts to millions. “That’s when Nerdy Nuts went from crazy to absolutely insane,” said Peterson.

Nerdy Nerdy Nuts Nuts Influencers: Influencers: Christine Snaps

@christines_snaps 4.5M Followers

Ali Grace Morsell @aligracemorsell 705K Followers

Hailey Peters

@happyhealthyhailey 945K Followers

They had sold so much peanut butter they had to shut their website down. Customers were upset they couldn’t produce as much as name brand manufacturers like Jif. At this time, Peterson and Mount were determined to be a direct to consumer (DTC) company, as they shifted to a global market.


on ‘more intricate processes.’ This is where you find workers chopping up ingredients by hand and layering product to give the consumer a visual experience. “My kitchen, can really focus to bringing more life to the Nerdy Nuts side of it,” Peterson adds of the Rapid City location.

MY LITTLE BUTTER CUP

They began hiring people to answer the hundreds of emails and social media inquiries that arrived each day. After shipping thousands of a packages for weeks, Nerdy Nuts realized if they wanted to continue their success, they needed help with logistics. They hired a third-party that ships products to the purchasers. While this may take from their bottom dollar, they knew it had to be done in order to grow and keep their sanity. As for social media, Peterson is satisfied with Tik Tok “because there are so few creators versus how many viewers on Tik Tok.” They are up to a dozen influencers that have been picked by Erika herself. “We don’t want to just give our product to anybody. We don’t want to blanket the market. We’d rather be picky and have great results from our influencers.”

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE

Challenges continued to arise as Nerdy Nuts sales climbed. While Rapid City has been very supportive, the location provided challenges. Almost 400 miles away from a major hub, Peterson and Mount looked for partnerships to continue their expansion. They found help on the West Coast, and now create products in a second kitchen. For customers to receive the freshest products, Oregon was chosen as the location. “Our kitchen in Oregon can have peanuts [shipped] to them next day, where it takes us five-to-seven days. Consumers are getting the freshest product in a timely manner,” states Peterson. The Oregon kitchen focuses on the basic spreads while Rapid City primarily focuses

Not only have the flavors expanded, but the products. Nerdy Nuts latest product for sale online is their peanut butter cups. She says everyone is familiar with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but “it’s not a true peanut butter cup. What they put inside their peanut butter cups is more of like a paste and they’re not doing anything crazy. It’s just chocolate and peanut butter flavoring.” Peterson believes the cups are “going to absolutely change the game.” The first flavor released was toffee and 11 flavors more are expected throughout 2021. They are also working with large retail companies to bring specialized products for holidays.

MARCH MUNCHNESS

One thing Peterson attributes to the Nerdy Nuts success is their willingness to listen. They have taken advice from consultants to get them to this point, and they are also listening to the consumers. In addition to taking notice to feedback provided on social media comments, Nerdy Nuts has created private Facebook pages that people can join to give feedback on flavors. The flavors are not just being created in Peterson’s kitchen, she said “consumers can come up with some crazy ideas that you never envisioned or that you can take to a next level.” Would you try bacon peanut butter? Banana wafer delight peanut butter? How about Alaskan blizzard peanut butter? These are some of the flavors submitted to Nerdy Nuts in the first part of 2021 as part of their National Peanut Butter Day contest. Entertaining videos are made by fans hoping Nerdy Nuts will take it a step further and produce their creation. View the entries on the Nerdy Nut Facebook page (/nerdynuts.sd). The tiramisu peanut butter by Donna Fimiani has our attention. elevaterapidcity.com 27


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Military Advisory Coalition connects military to community by Black Hills Military Advisory Coalition

I

n 2005, Ellsworth Air Force Base was selected for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). South Dakota came together and fought tirelessly to make sure the Department of Defense understood the critical role Ellsworth AFB plays in our national security. Since then, our local military forces have been making records with their excellence and their unwavering impact in conflicts and humanitarian missions across the globe. The importance of South Dakota National Guard and Ellsworth AFB to national defense has been reaffirmed through increased operational demands and, most recently, the placement of the B-21 training mission at Ellsworth AFB. As Rapid City prepares for the anticipated growth around Ellsworth and the local defense economy, there is often a lot of talk about the economic impact of the base. We know the military industry has a million dollar a day impact between direct and indirect payroll, construction, and job creation. That impact will only get larger in the near future. While the growth and opportunities are exciting, the real story of impact often gets lost in the numbers. The Black Hills is the proud home of more than 4,000 military members between the South Dakota National Guard and Ellsworth AFB. These members and their families are your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and peers. And while they are stationed in South Dakota either through active-duty Air Force or the National Guard, the desire is for them to feel at home: to find houses they love, engage in schools and organizations, find and grow in employment, and know they have a community that understands and supports the unique needs of the military. While COVID-19 forced many to disengage, the Black Hills community took the opportunity to reflect and strategically analyze how it

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could better meet the needs of these military members and families living here. Organizations such as the Elevate Rapid City Military Affairs Committee, Ellsworth Task Force, South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority, Embrace the Base, Honorary Commanders, Civic Leaders, and Society of Military Engineers joined forces to find a way of streamlining information and better using resources in support of local military. The result of these conversations led to the creation of the Black Hills Military Advisory Coalition. The goal of this newly formed BHMAC is to be the unified voice strengthening the connections between the military and regional communities. Community leaders now have an avenue to meet regularly with military leaders to discuss ways the community can best support military members. The work of the Coalition will take place in three Pillars: Quality of Life, Community Outreach, Defense Economy. In addition to several legacy events, such as the Military Appreciation Pig Roast, there are also new opportunities for focused work on specific initiatives regarding military needs.

South Dakotans are known for being patriotic and the generous support of the military. Through the BHMAC community members can now engage directly in initiatives and networking opportunities that directly support these men and women of the military. The economic impact of the military is important and impressive. But at the end of the day, what matters most is not the numbers but the people who sacrifice so much to defend our Nation. Those interested in learning more about getting involved with the BHMAC can email info@blackhillsmac.com.


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Celtic Connection provides luck of the Irish to downtown

Siaryn Duggan

S

by Main Street Square

kept me and my family grounded,” said Siaryn. iaryn Duggan grew up in County “I had to teach my kids cause and effect; when Antrim, Ireland. In 1978 she met John my son wanted McDonalds because his friends Duggan at a wedding in Europe. After were talking about it, I told him to take it out a long-distance relationship, they were married and she found herself following the of the pickle jar. After he ate McDonalds, he realized that we were now Airman to Rapid City. “Holy $20 short of our goal and the Buckets! I could not have food didn’t match the hype!” imagined being in Rapid City,” "We had a pickle jar that Siaryn was able to she recalls. “I never thought we kept any extra money I’d live anywhere but Ireland.” continue to add to the pickle in to ensure we saved to go jar/cabin fund by selling She was the youngest of her back to Ireland once a year. crafts at each stop in their family, and the only child to military travels. She even have moved away. As such, This kept me and my began taking their oldest the idea of family has always family grounded." been in the center of her life. child, Heather, to craft shows - Siaryn Duggan as young as six months old, Like most military families, Owner, Celtic Connection Siaryn and John moved often. all working toward the goal to raise funds to see family This made it difficult to place roots so Siaryn made it a point to visit her back home in Ireland. In addition to craft shows, she also worked as a substitute teacher homeland annually. “We had a pickle jar that throughout most stops with the military. This we kept any extra money in to ensure we saved to go back to Ireland once a year. This allowed her to continue to craft and learn elevaterapidcity.com 33


American dialect. Knowing English was one thing, but the vernacular was often where Siaryn discovered there was a bit of a learning curve. To this day, one of the first things most people notice about Siaryn is her Irish accent. And throughout her time in England, New Hampshire, Washington and South Dakota, it may have created a memorable story or two. “One time I was typing up a paper while working at the School of Mines and I asked someone for a rubber. I didn’t think anything of it, I made a mistake on the typewriter and needed an eraser. In Ireland we called it a rubber, I didn’t know it had a different meaning here in the States!” laughed Duggan. When the time came to retire from the Air Force, the family decided to establish roots in Rapid City. Siaryn was teaching at Douglas High School, but it was time to take her career in a different direction. “I knew it was time for a change when I found myself hitting my head on the steering wheel,” she recalls. “It wasn’t the kids, but I knew I was done.”

"I looked at the Hotel (Alex Johnson) and the (Elks) Theater and I knew I wanted to be here."

Luck of the Irish Siaryn played hockey growing up in Ireland. Her and her husband John have been season ticket holders for the Rush since their inception.

- Siaryn Duggan

It was at this point in 2007 that Siaryn decided to take her passion for crafting to the next level and opened the Celtic Connection. But there was still one obstacle to overcome: finding the right location. “I wanted to be where the traffic was. I looked at the Hotel (Alex Johnson) and the (Elks) Theater and I knew I wanted to be here,” she described. “I heard Forget Me Not Floral was moving and I jumped at the opportunity to move in, it just felt right.”

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Siaryn’s passions besides family, hockey and crafting include Guinness and Chocolate. Siaryn’s daughter Heather sells jewelry at the store under the name, Circle of Heather. When asked why the family settled in Rapid City Siaryn says, “In Ireland we say, the clouds are not closer in Ireland. Ireland is closer to heaven. Rapid City has the exact same feel.”


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"It’s all about being neighborly, a community thing. All businesses down here are in the same boat as I am, we are a family, you can’t pay cash for that." - Siaryn Duggan

With her roots now planted in that former floral shop, the family bonds that started in Ireland continued to resonate in Downtown Rapid City. In fact, many of the surrounding businesses and downtown Police Officers lovingly refer to her as the “Godmother of Sixth Street.” “It all started during Summer Nights,” Siaryn explains. “I saw an officer trying to eat a hot dog [while] quickly running down the street and wanted to help him out. My husband John was that officer many years ago, I know how hard it is.” She adds, “It’s all about being neighborly, a community thing. All businesses down here are in the same boat as I am, we are a family, you can’t pay cash for that.”

Question: : What are the holidays to alternate for visitations with children? Answer: It is essential that parents work out ways for children to enjoy holidays with both families. If agreements cannot be reached, Effective July 1, 2020, South Dakota Guidelines: School Age Children: MLK, President’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, NAD, Halloween, Thanksgiving. Christmas Day and split school Vacation. There are slight differences for children under age 5 with parents in same or nearby community. If parents are separating, Black Hills Mediation and Law can assist you in developing a Parenting Plan for your children, whether it is a divorce or unwed situation.. CONTACT: Lorie Melone at Black Hills Mediation and Law to get legal assistance. 605-791-4850

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Build Dakota Grant Creates Opportunities by Shiloh Francis

H Through Build Dakota, businesses commit to sponsor a student by paying for part of their education while the fund pays the other portion. The student is able to complete this in-demand advanced training without the financial burden while the employer gets a highskilled worker.

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ave you found yourself with a plumbing or electrical problem you could not fix yourself? You ask around, find referrals, and then discover it’s going to take several weeks for someone to come to your home? If so, you know firsthand the pain caused by the shortage of skilled talent that exists in these industries. And it’s not just electricians or plumbers. There’s a talent shortage in other trade skill areas such as nursing, construction, automotive, manufacturing, welding, and more. These are job areas that are not only in high-demand but also pay good, livable wages. For many interested in learning one of these career routes, a significant barrier exists: the cost of attending school to learn the trade. Fortunately, there is a program in place to help overcome the barrier for students entering the field. At the same time, it directly benefits the business by creating a direct talent pipeline: The Build Dakota Scholarship Fund. Through Build Dakota, businesses commit to sponsoring a student by paying for part of their education while the fund pays the other portion. The student is able to complete this in-demand advanced training without the financial burden while the employer gets a high-skilled worker. Students must also commit to working in South Dakota in that field for a minimum of three years. Seeing the need this program fills to secure a talent pipeline and help people enter the workforce, Elevate Rapid City wants to help more businesses get involved. The Revitalize Grant provides the opportunity for businesses to become new Industry Partners of the Build Dakota Scholarship Fund, with half the expenses covered through the grant. The Elevate Revitalize Grant provides the business with the flexibility to utilize the grant for a current employee or work with a technical school to identify a qualifying student. Businesses interested in taking advantage of this program can learn more at elevaterapidcity.com/applications.


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