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Are we poised for a



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IN-TOWN TRAILS a premier recruiting asset


ithin a couple minutes of my office, I can be mountain biking on some of the best single-track trails in the state. I’ve found there is very little work-related stress that can’t be cured by a grueling switchback climb, followed by a long and flowing downhill ride. Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park and the Skyline Trails are assets we should be praising every chance we get. The same can be said for Spearfish with Lookout Mountain or Sturgis with the 7th Calvary Trails. There are few places in the world that can compare to our dozens of miles of high-quality hiking and biking trails. To make matters better, we have them smack dab in the middle of town and easy for anyone to use. It’s difficult to quantify the value in dollars and cents that easy access to wilderness brings to our region, but make no mistake — it is there. These parks are the types of assets we can promote in the Black Hills when recruiting businesses or employees that few other places can match. New businesses and young professionals are more concerned with work-life balance than ever before. If you can’t find balance watching the sunset from the top of M Hill, you are going to be hard-pressed to find it anywhere. Creating these trails and making sure they stay pristine doesn’t happen by accident. Each week, a dedicated group of volunteers continues the work that was started a decade ago. Without knowing it, these volunteers — along with city parks staff — are like little economic development ambassadors, creating groundwork to grow our region while making sure our outdoor assets are sustainable. Now it’s our turn. When visitors come to the Hills, don’t


STAFF Publisher

Matt Tranquill

General Manager

Chris Huber

V.P. of Advertising and Marketing

Brad Casto

Ad Director

Lon Massingale

Operations and Circulation Director

Joshua K. Hart

Designer Eli Quinn Black Hills Business is published monthly by the Rapid City Journal. New issues are inserted into the Rapid City Journal the last Sunday of every month and are available at locations across the Black Hills. Offices are located at 507 Main Street, Rapid City SD 57701. The magazine is free of charge but back issues quantities are limited and subject to availability. The opinions of the columnists in Black Hills Business are their own.

Online Follow us on Facebook sell them short on the hiking and biking they can do within a couple minutes drive, walk or ride. I understand, we want these trails to be used and not abused. But even on the busiest of days, I may come across 15 people while riding on M Hill. To help our region grow, I’m more than happy to see a few more friendly faces while utilizing our trails. Chris Huber, General Manager of Black Hills Business

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SEPTEMBER 2019 | 3


Can the Black Hills be a high tech haven?

INNOVATION | PAGE 6 Startup Weekend: An event for aspiring entrepreneurs 7400 Circuits found a home back in the Black Hills Regional Health caregivers train on tiny heart tech Elevate Rapid City eager to help with mixed-use development downtown

ELLSWORTH | PAGE 14 SDEDA’s Scott Landguth: Partnering proves beneficial to all


VOLUME I ISSUE III PROFILES | PAGE 16 West River Electric Association CEO sees connections and transparency as a member-owned business SD CEO: Moving the needle for women entrepreneurs Spearfish and Black Hills State University – A partnership for success Rick Kahler on financial stress in times of transition

EDUCATION | PAGE 18 WDT increasing employment opportunities and filling workforce needs Mines professor receives grant to explore creation of solid-state battery research center

REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | PAGE 26 Chris-Bro Hospitality opens dualbranded hotel complex Know the numbers with Jared McEntaffer Real estate and building data

CULTURE | PAGE 40 Moccasin Springs Spa and Buffalo Dreamer offer a great getaway Amy DiRienzo’s favorite Black Hills spot SEPTEMBER 2019 | 5


From a

Belief to aBUSINESS

Startup Weekend is the perfect place to launch an idea CHRIS HUBER

Black Hills Business


f the seed of a business idea has been rattling around in your brain for years, there is an upcoming event in Rapid City to give it the water and nutrients it needs to grow. Startup Weekend Black Hills is a 54-hour event designed for entrepreneurs, developers and designers to gain the knowledge and connections they need to make their big idea into a business. The event is sponsored by Techstars, a market capital seed accelerator, founded in Boulder in 2006, and in partnership with Google for Startups. But it is run by a group of local volunteer organizers. This year’s event starts Friday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m. and continues through Sunday at Evergreen Media on Main Street in Rapid City. One of the event’s organizers, Dani Mason, says the event is action-based business development that pairs ideas with team members and mentors to help


make an idea a reality. “It’s really designed to take people from an idea to functioning startup over one weekend,” Mason said. “If you can’t spare two days for your idea, entrepreneurship is going to be a tough road for you.” Startup Weekend attendees pitch their ideas for 60 seconds on Friday night and the group votes on the top pitches. Ideas are chosen that night to work on the rest of the weekend and teams are formed. Mason said all you need to bring on Friday night is yourself. “If you have a great idea, you are going to have to sell it,” Mason said of the pitch night. She did note that even if an idea doesn’t get voted as one of the top by the group, that individual can still work on it throughout the weekend and pitch it to the expert panel on Sunday. “We have had people win that way in the past,” she said. Once teams are formed, they continue testing, business model development and prototype creation through the weekend under the guidance of experienced

business owners, investors and marketing specialists. She said teams have fleshed out ideas on Saturday to the point of explaining what an app would look like, all the way to building a functioning prototype of a table mixer. Teams also call and meet people in Black Hills on Saturday to get real responses from locals and feedback about their product. On Sunday, those teams then present their ideas to a panel of local professionals who choose the winners. Prizes are awarded like co-working space, marketing consulting or event startup funding. “This gives them a road map of what to do next and how to make an idea a reality,” Mason said. This will be the third Startup Weekend Black Hills event. At past events, as many as 100 people have shown up from all across the Black Hills and even into Wyoming and Iowa. Tickets range from $20 to $65 and are available at

Startup Weekend Black Hills is a 54-hour event designed to help develop an idea into a business.

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ELEVATE eager to help with mixed-use development downtown

parking spaces, all available in a single development. We are eager to complete the selection he summer is nearly gone, process and see this addition to our vibrant downtown come to but we are grateful to see fruition. that the sidewalks and I have had the opportunity to streets are still bustling talk with surrounding communiwith visitors and locals alike. Rapid City and the Black Hills are ties about Elevate Rapid City and our combining economic truly special; we are surrounded by monumental experiences, the resources from public and private beautiful Mountain West outdoors sectors in an efficient manner. Although this type of effort is not and bucket-list activities. This new to communities on a national is a community that values level, it is the first effort of its kind businesses large and small, and we are fortunate to live and work in our region. It is an honor to be viewed as a leader in this new here. era of strategic economic growth. Over the last several weeks, Every day, Elevate Rapid City you may have noticed Elevate leadership is working diligently Rapid City garnering attention to reach the goals outlined in from local media and from other our strategic plans, both for our Black Hills communities. In own organization and for the addition to our internal work of community. The Black Hills are merging two outstanding orgaa treasure to the state of South nizations into a single force with commonly-directed resources, we Dakota, and Rapid City is at the have moved forward with several heart of it all. With opportunities for growth at our fingertips, the projects in the community: A Request for Proposal (RFP) future of our beloved city is unlimited. for a mixed-use development on the corner of Fifth and St. Joseph was sent to local and For continuous updates on regional developers in July. We Elevate Rapid City’s progression and involvement in the comappreciate the media coverage and subsequent enthusiasm this munity, please follow us on our social media channels: Facebook, has generated in Rapid City. LinkedIn, and Twitter. For more Proposals are under review information about Elevate Rapid and cover an array of options, City’s mission and strategic goals, which include commercial space, visit our website at dwelling units and a number of PAT BURCHILL

Interim CEOElevate Rapid City






train on tiny heart tech Abiomed Impella Mobile Learning Lab was in Rapid City in August to train Regional Health staff on the heart pump device.



Black Hills Business


egional Health doctors and caregivers had a chance to train on some of the newest — and tiniest — technology in vascular medicine thanks to an interactive learning lab on wheels. The Abiomed Impella Mobile Learning Lab was available for training to cardiologists, nurses and cath lab staff at Regional Health Rapid City Hospital in August but the public also had a chance to see the advantages of the device. Impella, the world’s smallest heart pump, “is a minimally-invasive heart pump that assists the pumping functions of the heart during certain heart procedures,” according to a release from Regional Health. Rapid City Regional Hospital has used the device for several years. The catheter-like device works like a “sump pump for the heart,” and is inserted through the femoral artery. Once in place, it pulls blood from the left ventricle through an inlet near the tip and pumps the blood into the aorta. This reduces the workload on the heart and can be a good option for patients that have had a large heart attack or patients who’s heart function is very weak. Once the patient’s heart is stronger, the device is removed. The device is only minimally-invasive heart pump that has been approved by the FDA for this use in the United States. “The Mobile Learning Lab offers cardiologists, nurses and cath lab staff at Regional Health Rapid City Hospital a chance to learn how these heart pumps can best be used for patients in critical need of cardiac support,” the Regional release said.


Michelle Allen of Abiomed explains the Impella heart pump device to Regional Health staff in August.

COMING TOGE THE R, SUCCE E DING TOGE THE R. | a partnership with purpose

Ed Mandy and Andrew Pavek launched 7400 Circuits in 2014.




found a home back in the Black Hills


E 7400 Circuits co-founder Andrew Pavek works at their space in Ascent Innovation.

Mines graduate Ed Mandy was able to come back to the Black Hills and start 7400 Circuits with his brother-in-law.


d Mandy was like many South Dakota School of Mines & Technology alumni; he loved the Black Hills, but the opportunities available for a software engineer in the late 90s in Rapid City were slim to none. Off to Minneapolis he went, where he worked for a corporation and started his family. “My story isn’t much different from a majority of the people I graduated with,” said Mandy. “There was only a handful of my class that actually had the chance, or even thought they had the opportunity, to stay in Rapid City.” Years later, Mandy took the opportunity to work remotely for a company based in Hong Kong, China and relocate his family to the community of his alma mater. At the same time, his brother-inlaw – Andrew Pavek – was ready for something new as the company he was with closed their doors. Working together on DIY gaming systems as a hobby, the two saw the chance to launch their own business in the spring of 2014. 7400 Circuits is known for their contract work with companies wanting to outsource software and electrical engineering projects and tasks – specifically, those related to circuit boards. During an open house at Ascent Innovation, the business duo was introduced to an incubator setting and it was an obvious solution to the startup of their new

technology-focused venture. A successful kickstarter campaign in 2017 moved 7400 Circuits forward at full speed. “Over the years, we’ve been able to collaborate with several businesses in the surrounding area, some of which are currently in Ascent Innovation or are previous tenants,” said Pavek. From creating circuit board designs for 3D printers to tackling software programs for various companies (throughout a variety of industries), 7400 Circuits was ready to launch the next step in their business venture: gaming. Mandy dabbled in a DIY hobby of retro gaming systems for years, but when the demand for his systems increased, a product line from 7400 Circuits emerged under the name Freeplay Tech. A custom circuit board and DIY kit is created to fit into the shell of any Gameboy Advance system, giving a vintage look to a modern computer. “When I graduated, I thought my only option was to move somewhere else; I didn’t even think about starting my own company,” said Mandy. “Now, with the growth of Ascent Innovation, we are excited for a shift in the view of technology in Rapid City and the opportunities visible to students in our area.” From humble beginnings in a 100-square-foot office space at Ascent Innovation, 7400 Circuits has expanded to a larger 850-square foot office, adding machinery and interns and establishing new goals. It’s clear that the future is looking bright for this niche-focused company.

ready to Grow. Behind every business and bold move were those who believed it was possible to do more. We’re proud to support and energize our community’s dreams. Visit to learn more.


PARTNERING proves beneficial to all


Executive Director South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority


round the clock, more than 3,000 Airmen from the 28th Bomb Wing provide airpower. In order for the Air Force to conduct its mission at Ellsworth Air Force Base, there needs to be a supportive community behind them. The South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority, created by the state legislature in 2009, collaborates with state and municipal governments, business leaders and base officials on projects mutually beneficial to Ellsworth and the local community. The organization focuses on providing resources for Ellsworth, and for the Airmen and women and their families serving there, ensuring the base continues to be a viable center of national defense and regional economic benefit for the future. One collaborative project between the Authority, the City of Box Elder and Ellsworth was the creation of a $24 million wastewater treatment plant to service both the base and the City of Box Elder. The wastewater treatment plant was the most cost-effective approach to meeting the base and Box Elder’s sewage treatment needs. By building one plant, the partnership resulted


in millions of dollars in construction savings for both parties. In addition, it continues to provide savings by both parties sharing the operating costs. The new plant provides for growth for Ellsworth and Box Elder for decades to come. Through community collaboration, the Ellsworth Development Authority works to ensure a safe area for those living and working in and around Ellsworth. The Authority facilitates the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program. This Department of Defense and State of South Dakota funded initiative ensures that Ellsworth has a safe buffer around the base in which to operate. The Authority works with property owners, ranchers and community leaders to ensure operations at Ellsworth can be conducted in a safe manner for both the Airmen and those living near or around the base. These partnerships are critical to the base’s success. By keeping the land surrounding the installation compatible with Air Force guidelines, Ellsworth remains a thriving base and a significant economic benefit for the region. Due to the partnership between Ellsworth and the Ellsworth Development Authority, the land surrounding the base is now 99 percent compatible with Air Force guidelines. The Ellsworth Development

Authority also advocates for programs that benefit Ellsworth airmen and women and their families. With land obtained from the Air Force, the authority was able to work with the Douglas School District to donate land for a new elementary school. Working with the private sector and the city of Box Elder, the Authority continues to work on bringing additional housing and commercial and retail opportunities on Authority land near the base. As Ellsworth grows in the

coming years, the opportunities for partnering and collaborating on projects that are mutually beneficial for Ellsworth and South Dakota will only increase. Seizing on these opportunities will maximize the benefits and positive impacts for all parties. Scott Landguth is the Executive Director of the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority. The Authority’s mission is to ensure that South Dakota and the Black Hills are a great place for the Air Force to conduct its mission.

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7DICKJOHNSON questions with West River Electric’s

CEO talks co-op’s and region’s future


Black Hills Business


t West River Electric Association, it’s been all about their members for 80 years and CEO/General Manager Dick Johnson aims to keep it that way. The cooperative was envisioned by members of the Wall Commercial Club in hopes of gaining better and cheaper energy in western South Dakota. After a few years of drawing maps and applying for a Rural Electrification Administration program a group of ten men signed the incorporation papers for the co-op on June 12, 1939. Now, the electric cooperative consists of more than 2,600 miles of line and 17,000 meters. It serves Pennington, Meade, Haakon, Ziebach, Jackson and Oglala


Lakota counties. West River’s distribution system covers nearly 100 percent of a 4,500-square-mile area in western South Dakota. Now, Johnson talks about his career at the cooperative, what the future holds, and the challenges and advantages of a member-owned, non-profit business.

led me to West River Electric as their CFO in 1998. I was blessed to have the opportunity to grow myself and was promoted to CEO February 2010.

How did your career at West River Electric start?

West River Electric is celebrating 80 years. In your opinion, what is the biggest change energy cooperatives have gone through during that time?

After receiving my Bachelor’s degree from National American University, I spent 10 years in banking in western S.D. I realized lending was not for me and wanted to get back to my degree in accounting and finance. I had the opportunity to get into the rural electric cooperative program as a chief financial officer (CFO) in a smaller cooperative in Timber Lake, S.D. That eventually

Technology has greatly changed the way we do business. The equipment and tools the line crews use have greatly enhanced our safety and efficiency. When I started, the member read their meter and sent in a reading that we billed them for. They sent a check in to make a payment once a bill was sent. With our current automated meter reading systems, readings are available

West River Electric Association celebrated it’s 80th anniversary in June.

immediately. Billing accounts is a seamless integration with the automated readings and bill calculation programs. Members easily make payment and view hourly usage data via their phones. We now have a robust prepaid program where the member pays in advance thereby allowing them to control their usage and spending patterns. Social media platforms and the web require two-way communication with the member like never before. They want and expect instantaneous feedback.

How is leading a memberowned cooperative different from leading at traditional private business?


provider of electric service for our members to use when their renewable sources aren’t providing electricity for them.

What’s one thing you wish people in our area knew about West River Electric?

The one thing I wish people knew is that we have a different business model in that we are member-owned and have been for our 80 years of existence. All people who receive service from West River Electric, past, present and future, are memberowners who have a say in the affairs of the cooperative through the member elected Board of Directors. Any excess of revenues over expenses are annually allocated in the form of capital credits back to the members. These capital credits are then paid out at a later date depending on our current growth, cash available and equity.

Being member owned and non-profit, we only need an adequate margin to cover our expenses along with the infrastructure needs of our growing membership. We do not have a separate group of outside What does the future hold for investors. Local members are elected to our Board of Directors. I feel it requires us to be West River Electric? more connected, open and transparent with I believe we are on a path to continued the member-owner connection. I always growth in new accounts and sales with all the exciting things happening in our say: member-owned, member-controlled. communities. We will continue to meet What is the biggest challenge that growth head on while maintaining West River Electric faces and exceptional member service, leading in the what is the company’s plan to development of our communities and be the members trusted energy expert. Exciting overcome that? I feel the biggest long-term challenge is times! the attack on the traditional utility model. Are you optimistic about the We have invested millions of dollars in plant over the last 80 years to meet the needs of future of our region? our members. We did this with a long-term Our region shows so much potential. commitment to our members to provide We already have a stable agriculture and lowest cost, reliable electricity. With the tourism base, but with the new Ascent lower cost of renewables (solar and wind), Innovation Center under construction, Elevate battery storage, and small “micro grids,” Rapid City economic development initiative, many of our members will adopt many of announcement of the B-21 at Ellsworth and these new technologies. We end up with the underground mine at Lead, the entire millions of dollars in stranded investment region will spring to another level of economic with no electric sales. We will continue to relevance. As the saying goes, a rising tide develop a strategy to meet this new envi- raises all boats. All communities in the region ronment and our role as more of a standby will benefit from economic expansion.

West River Electric Association now serves more than 2,600 miles across western South Dakota. COURTESY PHOTO

SEPTEMBER 2019 | 17



President of Western Dakota Tech


estern Dakota Tech (WDT), western South Dakota’s only public two-year technical college, has great news to

share. The accomplishments by WDT are something of which we can all be proud. Our college is having a positive impact on our economy by contributing to the growth and expansion of jobs and employers and producing graduates to fill highly needed, good-paying jobs. Western Dakota Tech has received many recent notable accolades. In addition to celebrating its 50th anniversary, the college has received national honors, earned approval to add new programs which will benefit employers, and a survey of its 2018 graduating class revealed a 98% job placement rate. WDT prides itself on being a great place to work and hiring high-quality faculty and staff to deliver exceptionally skilled technical graduates ready to hit the ground running on their first day on the job. In 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Western Dakota Tech to its “Great Colleges to Work For,” report and its additionally prestigious “Honor Roll.” (2019 results will be released this September.) The Great Colleges survey/ report is one of the largest workplace recognition programs in the nation. These


increasing employment opportunities and filling workforce needs

honors bolster our ability to continually hire exceptionally talented faculty and staff. I am proud to announce Western Dakota Tech is home to the top technical education instructor and student in the nation. In April, the American Technical Education Association selected Jade Hollister, Surgical Technology program director, “Technical Faculty of the Year.” Dani Hersrud, 2019 Associates of Applied Sciences degree graduate, was named “Technical Student of the Year”. As Western Dakota Tech is closely tied to the success and growth of the job market, I am active in Elevate Rapid City and Rapid City Collective Impact. The skilled workforce shortage is a national crisis, painfully noticeable locally because of South Dakota’s high employment rate. Due to the shortage of technically skilled employees, pay in these fields has been steadily increasing. WDT offers more than 30 programs in technical, health care, business, and public safety areas to help meet workforce demand. The college is offering several new programs, including Registered Nursing, Industrial Maintenance, Farm and Ranch Management, Aquaponics, Construction Technology, Plumbing Technology, and Mechnician (specialty programming for IT systems in automated mining equipment). Our education programs take one to two years complete. A technical degree is a wise decision for anyone, both high school graduates and non-traditional

students, looking for a middle-class income and lifestyle. Western Dakota Tech is making a positive economic impact. An economic contribution study of our college by Jared McEntaffer, Ph.D., Project Director and Regional Economist with the Black Hills Knowledge Network, was recently completed. It shows Western Dakota Tech graduates experience between a 149% and 226% five-year return on their educational investment and most of our graduates live and work in western South Dakota. Moreover, each state dollar contributed to WDT results in $4.97 in total regional spending. In short, Western Dakota Tech is a significant contributor to both our graduates and our regional employers’ economies. WDT is advancing and we want to accomplish even more. It’s an understatement to say technically-educated graduates keep our society operational and healthy. Whether a person needs an HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) and refrigeration technician, or a paramedic to come to their aid, chances are strong that these professionals graduated from Western Dakota Tech. With WDT’s exceptional faculty and staff, hands-on learning spaces, advisory board wisdom, John T. Vucurevich Foundation supported success coaches, and your encouragement of people looking for an excellent future, Western Dakota Tech will continue to help close the skilled workforce gap for western South Dakota.

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Dr. Abu Md Numan-Al-Mobin, left, and Dr. Alevtina Smirnova are leading research on the creation of solid-state batteries.

Mines professors trying to build a



n 2016, half a million hoverboards were recalled after lithium ion batteries in some of the popular scooters burst into flames. That same year, Samsung recalled its Galaxy Note 7 when the same type of batteries in some of those devices exploded and burned. The recall cost Samsung more than $10 billion. With the U.S. lithium-ion battery market expected to reach $90 billion by 2025, Alevtina Smirnova, PhD, sees great value in fixing this battery problem. “The reality is, conventional lithium-ion batteries are not safe or reliable,” says Smirnova, an associate professor of chemistry and applied biological sciences, and electrical and computer engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Conventional lithium-ion batteries contain flammable liquid that can become combustible when heated. Heating usually occurs due to a short circuit inside the battery. The end result in these cases is often fire or explosion. To make matters worse, the electrolyte inside lithium-ion batteries is mixed with a compound that burns the skin. In 2017, a young woman on an overseas flight received burns on her


face when the batteries inside her headphones exploded. Smirnova plans to put an end to such explosive possibilities by creating a reliable and safe solid-state battery without the flammable electrolyte. To make this advancement happen, she is working to establish the Center for Green Solid-State Electric Power Generation and Storage (CEPS) with SD Mines serving as the lead institution. “Battery technology is the hottest topic now and can be applied everywhere,” Smirnova says. “This is a very exciting development both for the university and the state as well as the world. And we are excited by the possibility of Mines taking such a major role in new technology that could really change the world and help to put our area on the tech map.” Once established, CEPS will gather experts, researchers and industry leaders from varied fields to work together to improve the safety and reliability of batteries by producing solid-state batteries that are non-flammable and can survive a broad temperature range. The batteries will also have unlimited charge/ discharge; run longer on a single fast charge; be eco-friendly; and have the ability to be used to support electric power grids, Smirnova says. Smirnova’s solid-state energy storage technology has a wide range of applications, from

use in portable and medical devices, by the automotive industry, centralized and decentralized electric grids, military applications, energy security and more. “CEPS will transform the current lithium-ion batteries, which are not safe due to the presence of flammable liquid,” she says. “These batteries often cost companies millions of dollars during recall situations.” Smirnova received a $60,000 planning grant in January 2019 from the National Science Foundation to create an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) on the campus of SD Mines. That “center” will be CEPS. Smirnova will serve as the CEPS director, and Duane Abata, SD Mines professor of mechanical engineering, will serve as the CEPS Associate Director. The NSF program to create cooperative research centers launched in 1973 to “develop long-term partnerships among industry, academe and government.” The centers are designed to promote research programs of “mutual interest, contribute to the nation’s research and education, and facilitate technology transfer.” Nationally, there are 73 such centers doing research on individual topics in the United States, most located on the East Coast. Since receiving the planning grant early this year, Smirnova and Assistant CEPS Director/

Research scientist Abu Md NumanAl-Mobin, Ph.D., is part of the team at Mines working to bring solid-state batteries to reality.

research scientist Abu Md Numan-Al-Mobin, Ph.D., or “Numan,” as he is most often called, have worked diligently to form partnerships with industry, national labs and governmental agencies in order to meet the criteria for the grant. Smirnova and Numan have secured four university partnerships for CEPS – SD Mines, South Dakota State University in Brookings, the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and Northeastern University in Massachusetts. Each university receives $15,000 of the $60,000 planning grant. CEPS will be housed at Mines, but each university will be considered a project “site” where research will take place, Smirnova says. SD Mines’ research within CEPS will focus on new materials and electrical engineering research & development; SDSU’s will focus on integration with solar; USD’s research area is modeling and medical applications and NEU will address in-situ/operando mechanisms. The NSF criteria also requires that centers secure at least three partnerships with companies per university site; each company contributing $50,000 as a full membership fee. The NSF will match the $50,000 membership fee for the first three industry partners up to $600,000 per year. Building these business partnerships will prove critical to the success of the planning grant, Smirnova says.

“This will require a lot of time and huge faculty effort,” Smirnova says. “It largely depends on the faculty and their ability to become efficient salesmen in pursuing such goals as attracting more studetns, workforce development, and economic growth. CEPS would be a turning point in the state’s high-tech status.” NSF also encourages centers like CEPS to partner with national labs, something that will be pursued as well, says Smirnova. Smirnova says CEPS will become an intellectual property hub for energy storage, and the location in western South Dakota is intentional. “It’s location in the center of the country will be a major benefit, making it accessible to other potentially important industries and capabilities around the country and the world,” she says. Smirnova says industries from different segments of economy would greatly benefit from partnerships with CEPS. Among them are battery and automotive companies such as Ford, Tesla, and GM; lithium, cobalt and nickel mining companies; wind and solar manufacturers; electric power companies; and those companies that use battery storage for medical applications. Industry partners in CEPS will also benefit by having a seat at the Industry Advisory Board, a vote in the CEPS research and development portfolio, the ability to monitor progress in the

development of the technology, involvement in the development and approval of CEPS’ bylaws and the retainment of non-exclusive licenses to develop products. They will also be helping to train students for future employment, supporting the economic development of South Dakota and supporting sustainable electric power grids, Smirnova says. NSF will evaluate CEPS’ progress during a planning grant meeting September 12-13, 2019. If the requirements are in place and CEPS can show it can attract members from industry, Smirnova will submit a full grant in December, requesting $600,000 per year for 5 years in grant funding for the project, that will be matched 1:1 by industry. If approved in September for full funding, CEPS will have 10 to 15 years to become self-sustaining before NSF funding is removed. Smirnova is optimistic about both the future success of CEPS to land industry partnerships and the development of safe, reliable solidstate batteries. However, it is an extremely competitive area and success of this effort will depend largely on enthusiasm and engagement, says Smirnova. She’s quick to express her gratitude to the offices of SD Mines President Jim Rankin and Vice President of Research Jan Puszynski for their support. “This is an exciting time for our university,” Smirnova says.

AUGUST 2019 | 21



NEEDLE for women entrepreneurs


South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) Director


ust over 30 years ago, the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 did many things to spur entrepreneurship for women. Not only did it remove the requirement for women who wanted a business loan to provide a signature from a male relative in order to apply, it also created the Women’s Business Centers whose purpose was to provide technical assistance to women in order to form and grow businesses. Partially grant funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 122 Women’s Business Centers across the nation and one in South Dakota. I’ve been the director of the SD CEO — Women’s Business Center for almost two years. We are in our 10th year and are hosted by the Black Hills State University Foundation with an office on the BHSU campus in Spearfish. While we are located in Spearfish, our charter is to serve all women across the state interested in entrepreneurship. We do this in collaboration with other SBA resource partners like the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), SCORE, Veteran’s Business Outreach Center (VBOC) as well as economic development and chamber of commerce organizations. After working in corporate America, private industry and running my own company for


almost seven years, I’ve had many experiences in different business situations and what I see happening in South Dakota for womenowned businesses is exciting. Here’s the bad news: The percentage of total companies in South Dakota owned by women is 30.1 percent, which puts us in last place. Yes, that’s last place — number 51. However, in my time with SD CEO, I have seen significant strides in more women stepping out and launching new ventures. See for yourself and meet: Business partners and sister team TARYN PIKE and KELSEY BAIRD who opened Outside In: A Children’s Indoor Playground in Rapid City in November 2018 — bringing the first indoor playground to the Black Hills and 4-6 new jobs. EMILY COSTOPOULOS who launched The Local — a new co-working, training and event space in downtown Sturgis in January. TIA FERGUSON who built The Barn at Aspen Acres, an 8,000-square-foot new wedding and event venue in Spearfish that can comfortably fit 400 people, creating 8 to10 jobs. LUCI SEID and KIM BORSCH who officially opened Mile Up Marketing, offering website design, digital marketing, branding and graphic design in January 2018 and just moved into an expanded space in Lead. These are just a few of the women we’ve worked with at SD CEO who are building businesses, creating jobs and propelling

economic growth in the Black Hills. So here’s some good news: The 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express ranks South Dakota first when it comes to economic clout, which is defined as the growth in the number of firms and growth in employment and revenues between 2007 and 2018 for women-owned firms. This number one ranking tells us that compared to all other states, it’s South Dakota where women-owned businesses are seeing significant growth. OK, sure, we are still in last place for the percentage of women-owned businesses but, let me tell you, there is momentum. And these numbers speak to that forward change. I see this momentum at SD CEO conferences, workshops and networking events. There is a swell of enthusiasm, grit, determination and confidence

in the women I meet with who want to start the conversation about business ownership. I also see a rise in women supporting other women when it comes to mentoring and sponsoring. You might have noticed this too as we watch more women join boards, apply for promotions and consider if business ownership is for them. SD CEO is committed to helping women launch and grow businesses across our state and determined to move the needle. I could not be more encouraged and excited about the future of women entrepreneurs in South Dakota. SD CEO is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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Jeremy Warner works on phone software for a client at Omnitech Inc.




TECH GOLD I N O U R B L AC K H I L L S Our region has the elements to create technology-based boom 24 | BLACK HILLS BUSINESS

Al Maas demonstrates how Ebb uses biometrics to create a streamlined credential management system.


Black Hills Business Correspondent


ver so slowly, economists contend the Black Hills are on the verge of an economic renaissance, with digital entrepreneurs seeking the right blend of skilled workers, highspeed digital access and a quality lifestyle unmatched in major urban areas. “More and more tech-based companies, because of the interconnections with modern technology, can choose to be located wherever they want,” said Joseph Wright, associate vice president for research-economic development at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. “Some of those companies have chosen Rapid City and the Black Hills because they like our community. It’s about quality of life and amenities.” Wright has spent the last eight years in his position fostering relationships, taking advantage of faculty collaborations with companies and entrepreneurs around the world, and overseeing a group of about 40 volunteers on the Mines’ campus called Entrepreneurs in Residence, consisting of former executives, financiers and impresarios from throughout North America who are willing to give back to their community. “My mission here is to foster economic growth in the community and the region, and the university is a driver for that” Wright said. “Our office has brought teams together and

launched companies literally by the dozens. There are 10 that we can hang our hat on right now. “Tourism isn’t the only arrow in our quiver,” he added. “There is definitely growth, yes, in tech-based, knowledge-based start-ups. It remains to be seen how successful they become.”


As part of the process of building a brighter business climate for the Black Hills, Wright said he and other economic development professionals pour over studies and reports of economists in the upper Midwest who examine trends in commercial growth and population statistics county by county. Those economists have identified five key factors that consistently contribute to growth, including whether the area has a state capital, a major research institution such as a university, a military institution, is a major hub for air travel, and is connected by four-lane highways that extend north, south, east and west. “There’s always an outlier, something funky,” Wright noted. “But the more you have of those, the more vibrant the growth. The lack of those five drivers spell doom.” For years, Rapid City and Sioux Falls, as well as counties surrounding those two communities, have set the standard for growth in South Dakota. At the intersection of Interstates 29 and 90, Sioux Falls is also

Joseph Wright

bolstered by Sanford Health and a busy airport, checking off three of the five key factors, Wright noted. “For Rapid City, Ellsworth Air Force Base


SEPTEMBER 2019 | 25

excavating rock — the mass of which equals three Nimitz aircraft carriers — to make way for a billion-dollar experiment that some have equated with the moon shot a half-century ago. Just east of Rapid City, Ellsworth AFB was selected in May as the first training base and recipient to receive the Air Force’s new B-21 bomber. Construction of new support facilities for the thermonuclear bomber, dubbed the Raider, are expected to begin in 2021. More importantly, the assignment will bring hundreds, if not several thousand, new airmen and their families to the Rapid City area, signaling a future building boom for the region. Those two developments alone would be enough to satiate the palates of many of those operating in economic development. But Wright says the region needs to think bigger and expand opportunities for hightech entrepreneurs who could augment the workforce, expand the tax base, diversify the economy and create high-paying jobs for people who truly want to live in a place such as the Black Hills. “Most of the growth of our country’s economy is tech-based,” he explained. “Any growing company has a technical component, either adapting tech or developing new technology. Tech start-ups pay far more money, $70,000 average annual salaries, and bring highly educated employees who help diversify an economy and create excitement and energy. A vibrant, highly skilled, highly educated growth in population is what everybody wants to achieve.” With a goal of creating 1,000 new techbased jobs in the Rapid City area, Wright estimated he and his associates already are 10 or 20 percent of the way there, and he hopes it’s “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Al Maas of Ebb is optimistic about the tech industry in the Black Hills.



More and more tech companies are choosing the Black Hills for their business because of the quality of life the area provides.

is a major driver of our economy, then we have the School of Mines as a major educational institution and we are seeing significant growth in air travel,” he said. “We have I-90 going east to west, but imagine what would happen if we had a north-south connector. Finally, the last thing is a capital, which neither of us has.” While Rapid City may not be able to check off all the boxes, Wright contends it does have one of the “something funky” factors that many other communities, including Sioux Falls, can’t claim — an emerald oasis and million-acre playground known as the Black Hills. “The strange thing about Rapid City, which is a plus, is it’s located in the intermountain West with certain amenities and


a distinct quality of life to which people are attracted,” he said. “It serves to strengthen the other factors, which are essential to our economy.”


Rapid City, uniquely positioned on the eastern flank of the Black Hills, is being buffeted by a series of developments that portend a prosperous future. An hour away in the highest reaches of this ancient mountain range, scientists from around the world have transformed a century-old gold mine at Lead into the Sanford Underground Research Facility, a mile-deep laboratory where they are attempting to unravel the mysteries of the universe. And contractors will soon start

While Wright says business incubators like Ascent Innovation and small venture capitalists such as the Black Hills Regional Angel Fund are key components to building tomorrow’s local economy, start-up entrepreneurs such as Al Maas of Ebb, a Rapid City company specializing in secure technologies, assert that doing business in remote regions like western South Dakota can be, at once, a blessing and a curse. “We’re not Boston, Austin or Silicone Valley and we don’t have the money that gets thrown at ideas,” the entrepreneur said. “We have to prove ourselves first before anyone considers putting money in a start-up. Out here, if it doesn’t eat hay and poop, most people aren’t interested in it.” Although Ebb already has helped bring digital security technologies to a variety of clients, including dentist’s offices, a credit counseling call center, an IT company in Sioux Falls and the Black Hills Eye Institute, Maas said the company “isn’t

Jeremy Warner, a software enginee for Omnitech and Mines graduate, said the business climate in the Black Hills is becoming more attractive. His company co-located in Rapid City to help grow their business across the state and attract talent from Mines.

even crawling yet,” is seeking investment capital, and is currently searching for a chief marketing officer who also would be a partner and co-founder. Despite the struggles, Maas sa i d h e re ma i n e d o p ti mi sti c, primarily because he knows what the Black Hills have to offer. “We have better speeds and bandwidth here in South Dakota than they do in Silicon Valley,” he said. “We have the perfect environment here in the Black Hills for this. We have so many graduates coming out of our universities, and so many of them have been going elsewhere. We all know why we live here — because we love it.” Omnitech Inc., a Sioux Falls business which has been creating custom software for business clients for more than 20 years, represents an out-of-town enterprise that recently expanded to Rapid City. After operating out of the Ascent Innovation business development center since D e c e m b e r, i n J u l y O m n i t e c h announced it was expanding its satellite office by adding a second full-timer as well as three interns. Jeremy Warner, a software engineer and Mines graduate who got in on Omnitech’s ground floor in Rapid City, said his university was a primary factor in Omnitech’s decision to expand to the Black Hills. As the married father of a 20-month-old daughter, Warner said the Black Hills and a decent job offer were his reasons to stay. “The business climate in Rapid City is becoming more and more attractive and the Black Hills,

overall is an attractive place to live and do business,” Warner said. “The Hills themselves are a very big draw and that was a primary factor for me and my family. It’s a great place to live and it’s not crazy expensive here as it is with other tech locations and larger cities.” Warner said it’s relatively easy for many large companies to outsource, a practice he referred to as, “off-shoring,” to firms in India and elsewhere. But over the years, he said the Midwest had developed a reputation for producing young people with a “really good work ethic,” which may prove attractive to companies in the long run. “Folks on both coasts know we work hard, we’re easy to work with, and whether it’s Nebraska or South Dakota, we’ll start seeing more of that,” he predicted. “I think we’re going to see quite a bit of growth here.” Wright agreed with Warner’s assessment and said while he had received several offers to work elsewhere in the U.S., the lure of the Black Hills has kept him here. And he remains hopeful that same appeal will ensnare hundreds of techies and entrepreneurs in coming years. “I’m convinced the Black Hills are on a significant upswing in population,” he said. “We’ll not be immune to the kind of growth the intermountain West has experienced. But we can control that with the type of growth. Tech-based is the best way to grow with high wages. And why wouldn’t you want to build a community where those people land?”

Is the Black Hills region poised for a


Mines Associate Vice President for Research and Economic Development


believe the Black Hills area has the potential to see significant growth in its technology-based business sector in the near future. There are a number of factors that lead me to this conclusion. The Black Hills attracts talented people who fuel this kind of growth. Our beautiful surroundings, vibrant growing cities, and quaint small towns are places people want to live. A number of technologyrelated developments are coming to the area and, if leveraged properly, they can fuel rapid growth. These developments include the expansion of the health care industry, the largescale experiments at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, and the move to locate B-21 Bombers at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Any one of these alone would be a significant economic development in a community the size of Rapid City. The fact that we have three of these “game

changers” all happening at once is incredible. Lastly, SD Mines has an entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem that is thriving. The number of start-ups launched here has increased dramatically over the last decade, and the infrastructure to support these businesses has matured. Companies such as VRC Metal Systems, Trion, and Nanopareil are perfect examples of faculty start-ups seeing success. Students have joined the ranks of the entrepreneurial community and programs such as the CEO Student Business Plan Competition and the Braun Student Inventor Award serve to foster these types of activities on campus. The scale of our expansion depends on the community’s ability to foster and support such growth. I am pleased to see so many champions of this effort here. Because we are working together in a concerted and visionary way, I believe the Black Hills area is at the beginning of a technology-based economic boom.

SEPTEMBER 2019 | 27


Snippets of business activity across the Black Hills

B9Clean, a 3D printer cleaning tool from B9Creations, was named a finalist for an industry award.

Rapid City company named finalist for 3D printing award

Black Hills Energy adds voluntary renewable energy for businesses

B9Creations’ automation solution, the B9Clean, a tool that automates post-processing by providing no-mess, glove-free cleaning of 3D printed parts, has been voted as one of only five finalists worldwide for the 2019 TCT Post-Processing Award. The TCT Awards showcase the most influential 3D printing technology innovations around the globe, with finalists selected by an expert advisory board. “B9Creations is honored to have been voted as a finalist for the TCT Post-Processing Award. It’s no secret that it’s a messy process to go from a finished print to a final product. We wanted to address this pain point, delivering production-grade parts with post-processing to match. That’s why we developed the B9Clean, so the first time a customer touches a part, it’s printed, clean and dry. Coupled with our software, B9 Core Series 3D printers, and curing unit, businesses have a simple, fast, automated solution – so they can focus less on process and more on results,” said Shon Anderson, CEO of B9Creations.

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved Black Hills Energy’s voluntary renewable energy subscription program – the Renewable Ready Service Tariff for large commercial and industrial businesses and governmental agencies in July. The company also announced the Wyoming Public Service Commission approved the company’s application to build a new, utility-scale wind project which will serve as the dedicated energy supply for the program. “We are delighted by the positive response to our Renewable Ready Service Tariff and accompanying Corriedale Wind Energy Project near Cheyenne,” said Nick Gardner, Black Hills Energy’s vice president of electric operations for South Dakota. “This innovative program supports our customers’ business goals and sustainability objectives with cost-effective renewable energy produced here in the region.” The $57 million Corriedale wind project will provide 40-megawatts of energy for Renewable Ready


subscribers in western South Dakota and Wyoming, enough energy to supply up to 100 percent of their energy needs,” continued Gardner. “The Corriedale wind project will be constructed and placed into service late in 2020 and will be jointly owned by Black Hills Energy’s electric utility subsidiaries in South Dakota and Wyoming.” “We will conduct an open period for Renewable Ready subscribers later this year and, based upon early indications of interest, we expect the program to be fully subscribed for the full 40 megawatts of capacity,” he said.

State ag economic study highlights growth

of Agriculture conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A few key findings from the study include: Agriculture contributes $32.5 billion, annually, to South Dakota’s economy, up from $25.6 billion. This accounts for 33 percent of South Dakota’s total economic output. The number of agriculture and agriculture-related jobs also increased from 115,651 to 132,105. This represents 22 percent of all jobs in South Dakota. “This study is very encouraging,” said Kim Vanneman, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture. “It’s been a tough couple of years for folks in agriculture with unpredictable weather and tough markets, but these numbers show that the heartbeat of agriculture is strong, and our future is bright. Thanks to the innovative and hard-working men and women in all parts of the industry, agriculture continues to grow in South Dakota.”

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has released the 2019 South Dakota Agricultural Economic Contribution Study. According to the department, the study is an update to the 2014 South Dakota Economic Contribution Study. Both studies were completed by Decision Innovation Solutions and draws Do you have a business brief? Send from data generated by the Census it to

Cozying up to one of the several fire pits is the perfect place to sit and relax at the Hampton Inn & Suites and Tru Hotel complex in Rapid City.



Chris-Bro Hospitality opens dual-branded hotel complex CHRIS HUBER

Black Hills Business

T The shared pool area features a large water slide and saltwater pool.

The workout facility at the new hotel complex features cardio machines, free weights and resistance bands.


The common area at the Hampton Inn & Suites offers clean aesthetics and plenty of seating.

wo different hospitality experiences under one roof. The newly opened Hampton Inn & Suites and Tru Hotel Hilton complex gives travelers options for their stay when coming to Rapid City. Operated by Rapid City-based Chris-Bro Hospitality, the hotel complex features more than 200 rooms, multiple common spaces, a conference room, a large pool area, multiple outdoor patios and a workout facility. The Rapid City facility is the first time Hilton has combined a Hampton Inn & Suits and Tru Hotel into one complex. On the east end of the building sits the Hampton Inn & Suites. The aesthetic here is crisp, modern and impeccably designed. It’s perfect for business travelers or families that want a classy suite. The walls are filled with picturesque Black Hills scenes overlayed with modern art design elements, giving the hotel a nice local touch. The Tru Hotel, on the west side of the complex, is more targeted to “millennial minimalists.” Rooms are efficient and modern with bright splashes of color. The common area features a pool table, game area and funky chairs for sitting and chatting. Guests staying at either hotel are encouraged walk down the hall and check out the other’s common spaces. Both hotels have their own breakfast areas and lobbies but share a common pool, workout facility and outdoor patios. The pool area features a massive two-story water slide that takes people on a 135-foot ride before splashing down in the saltwater pool. The fire pits in the outdoor patio areas offer guests a chance to sit back and relax after a long day of exploring the Hills or sitting in business meetings.

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A roundup of construction activity in the Black Hills

Construction of a new headquarters for Timberline Builders continues in the Access Point Development of the Spearfish Business Park.

Construction is nearly complete at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Pearson Alumni and Conference Center. Scull Construction is the general contractor on this project.

Crews continue work on the Common Cents store near the intersection of Elk Vale Road and Interstate 90. RCS Construction is the general contractor on this project.

Construction crews continue building homes in the Johnson Ranch area of Rapid City. Initial plans by developer Hani Shafai called for roughly 75 single-family homes.


Did you know... in 2018, Cornerstone Rescue Mission served

s Rescue Mission


homeless women


homeless men


homeless children For 37 Years, Cornerstone Rescue Mission has provided the following services in West River: • Operating the only day and night shelter in West River, SD • Providing over 33,000 bed nights annually • Transitional housing • Legal assistance/legal clinics • Medical care with on-site clinic staffed by Community Health Center of the Black Hills • Project Recovery/Cornerstone – Medical Assisted Treatment for opiate and alcohol addiction • Case management, employment search, budgeting and housing search/assistance • Free soup kitchen serving 500+ meals daily (open to the public, 3 meals a day, 365 days per year) • Separate section for Veterans with case management and state-wide housing grant

• Emergency Shelter • Community Care Center for meetings and services – open all day, every day • Counseling – including spiritual, AA, NA, Bible Studies and other groups • Assistance with security/utility deposits, rent and replacement ID’s • Separate Women & Children’s Mission with daycare and parenting classes • Cornerstone Thrift Store supplements our Women and Children’s Home • Cornerstone Apartments – 24 fully furnished units offering a sober living environment • 300+ people/families placed in permanent housing annually

Homelessness is a community issue and the needs grow daily. Thank you for helping us care for the neediest in our community!

Cornerstone Rescue Mission’s Women and Children’s Home, pictured above (left and right)

Clothing, household goods, furniture donations can be dropped off at Cornerstone Thrift Store, 401 11th St, Rapid City.

Thank you for your support! —Cornerstone Rescue Mission, Guests, Staff, and Board of Directors

Monetary donations can be sent to Cornerstone Rescue Mission, PO Box 2188, Rapid City, SD 57709

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Rapid City Regional Hospital took out a $7.5 million building permit in July for alterations on the third and forth floors of the hospital.





Regional Hospital tops lists with $7.5 million permit


apid City issued 474 building permits in July, the highest number of permits issued since 2014 and the fourth-best July for issuance of permits by the City’s Building Services Division since 2000. The total valuation of the issued permits was $20,866,053. The numbers compare to last July’s issuance of 373 permits with a total valuation of $18,178,544. The City issued 173 residential roofing permits in July, compared to 118 for July 2018. The residential roofing permit numbers were the highest number issued since 2014 (373 permits). Top permits issued in July include: Rapid City Regional Hospital for third and fourth floor alterations, 353 Fairmont Boulevard ($7.5 million); a single family dwelling with attached garage at 1920 Skyline Ranch Road ($829,927); Store SPE Mills Fleet II for Fleet Farm fuel tanks, 1001 E. Mall Drive ($500,000); a single family dwelling with attached garage at 6025 Cloud Peak Drive ($485,288); and Wal-Mart Real Estate for online grocery pickup addition at 100 Stumer Road ($464,349).


Walmart on Stumer Road took out a $464,000 permit in July for a online grocery pickup addition.

The Fleet Farm store on East Mall Drive took out a $500,000 building permit for fuel tanks this July.




WITH ECONOMIST JARED MCENTAFFER Vital statistics from the Black Hills region


common question is what makes a strong economy. There are many potential answers, but one good one would that a strong economy is a diverse economy. Economic diversity is a strength because a it prevents a downturn in one industry from spreading and slowing down the overall economy. We’re seeing a good example of this right now with regards to tourism. Some have even said that the Black Hills has only two seasons, winter and the tourist season — let’s not talk about the construction season. Tourism is a tremendous asset and all of western South Dakota benefits from the millions of dollars it brings in along with the thousands of jobs it supports. Tourism is an up and down industry, though, and 2019 is looking like a down year. Year-to-date (January 1 through July 31, 2019) tourism spending in western South Dakota is down 4% from the same period last year, according to data from the SD Department of Tourism. Locally, taxable sales in Rapid City are down 2.4%. Many hotels, restaurants, and retail stores across the region are feeling this pinch.


In the not too distant past, a down year like this could be bad sign for the whole region, but it looks like the economy is weathering the storm. Year-over-year job growth across the Black Hills (Custer, Fall River, Lawrence, Meade, and Pennington Counties) is ranging between 1% and 2.5%. On top of that, in June 2019 there

were 7,254 job openings across the Black Hills, according to the SD Department of Labor and Regulation. That’s three jobs for each unemployed worker. Energy, healthcare, science and engineering, all of these industries have grown significantly over the past few years. The result is a more diverse and stronger economy that

is less cyclical and less reliant upon tourism, which is what seems to be showing up in the numbers. The key therefore is not to take tourism off the economic menu, but to add more to the menu. Jared McEntaffer, Ph.D. is the Project Director and Regional Economist for the Black Hills Knowledge Network.

JUNE 2019

JUNE 2018



Labor force total















Unemployment rate

















SALES TAXES Taxable sales





Taxes due


























Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa in Hot Springs features four natural spring pools ranging from 88 to 102 degrees. CHRIS HUBER PHOTOS

Ready for

RELAXATION Moccasin Springs Spa and Buffalo Dreamer offer a great getaway


Black Hills Business


ealing waters and heavenly food. That’s the theory behind the new Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa and Buffalo Dreamer restaurant in Hot Springs. Owned by Kara Hagen, the spa opened in May after months of building on a picturesque piece of land. The property is built on the natural warm spring with 93-degree water, and is named for the spring flowing from the rock formation that is shaped like a moccasin. Hagen wasn’t the first to tap into the natural healing waters at this spot. Her location on Minnekahta Avenue in central Hot Springs was original site of the Minnekahta Bath House and Hot Springs Hotel. Those buildings had long been torn down when Hagen bought the property and built the spa. The property features four pools, a sand


Natural warm spring water flows into a pool at Moccasin Springs.

“beach,” a pool house with gas fireplace and impeccable design touches. The large pool hovers between 88 and 90 degrees, fed by natural warm springs. The adjacent pool house pool is right at 93 degrees and is the original moccasinshaped pool. Two other natural mineral

spring pools are heat-supplemented, giving them temperatures ranging from 98 to 102 degrees. Visitors will be taken by the crystal clear waters and serene setting of the pools. One can’t help but the relax as the mineral waters provide a relaxing soak.


Local grass-fed finished flank steak from Evergreen Ranching and Livestock near Custer with Argentine garlic and parsley chimichurri sauce.

A bright and open yoga studio looks out on the mineral pools at Moccasin Springs.


Green matcha tea and peppermint cashew butter creme on an almond pastry crust.

Beautiful design continues inside the property. The spacious lobby and entryway features a large fireplace. There is a large and inviting yoga studio with several classes throughout the week. An infrared sauna allows for a cleansing sweat, or massages by appointment. Also inside the property is a cozy and The outdoor space at Moccasin Springs features multiple pools and a cozy fire pit. inventive restaurant called Buffalo Dreamer, open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. At Buffalo Dreamer, chef Rebecca Christensen draws from a focused and inspired menu of American cuisine with “creative nudges.” Patrons may remember Christensen’s former restaurant in Hot Springs, the Blue Vervain. Chef Rebecca describes the menu as American food alchemy — “transforming simple ingredients in joyful food.” Buffalo Dreamer is an intimate dining experience, with some patrons having a view of kitchen. Entrees could include red wine and cherry braised buffalo, locally sourced beef or fresh fish from Dakota Seafood. Exotic flavors are sprinkled throughout the dessert menu, like a hibiscus flower and blackberry cashew crème tart or a rose lassi with house-made A private bath at Moccasin Springs. kefir and rose infused agave.

SEPTEMBER 2019 | 41



AMY DIRIENZO, 30, STRATEGIC PROGRAMS MANAGER, RESPEC How long have you lived in the Black Hills?

I have lived in the Black Hills for six years. After graduating from college, I wanted to begin my career someplace I could enjoy the outdoors. The Black Hills have countless places to camp, hike, and fish, right in my backyard.

peaceful, perfect for paddling, and I love to fly fish on Castle Creek.

What is your favorite memory from that place?

Every time my mom comes to visit we go canoeing on Deerfield Lake. We have lots of great memories canoeing and kayaking together all over the United States, What is your favorite place in the and Deerfield is still at the top of my list. It was also one of my Black Hills and why? My favorite place in the Black grandparents‘ favorite places to Hills is Deerfield Lake. Deerfield is canoe and fish!


Business leaders share their favorite Hills spots PHOTO COURTESY JACEY LUPO

Amy DiRienzo, strategic programs manager at RESPEC, enjoys fishing and canoeing at Deerfield Lake.

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Annual Ski Swap The Ski Swap will be held in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on November 3rd 2019! You can bring your used skis, snowboards, boots, and winter gear to consign! This event is our largest annual fundraiser and is a lot of fun!

Consignment is Friday, November 1st from 5pm-8pm and Saturday morning, November 2nd, from 7:30am to 11am. Sale Noon to 3pm Saturday Nov 2. Winter Event Dates:

January 26-31, 2020



Spearfish and Black Hills State University –

A PARTNERSHIP FOR SUCCESS KORY MENKEN Executive Director Spearfish Economic Development Corp.


t is hard to imagine Spearfish’s past or future economic growth without the invaluable contributions of Black Hills State University (BHSU). Since its foundation as Dakota Territorial Normal School in 1883, BHSU has played a crucial role in Spearfish’s development as the second largest community in western South Dakota. In addition to being one of Spearfish’s largest employers, the faculty, staff, students and alumni of BHSU are woven into the fabric of our community. From athletic events and theatrical productions to sustainability projects and volunteer activities, BHSU’s presence is felt daily. Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) appreciates first-hand BHSU’s impact as numerous members of the SEDC Board of Directors, SEDC Marketing Coordinator Laine Mitchell and yours truly are all proud Yellow Jackets. But BHSU’s influence goes well beyond Spearfish and western South Dakota. Seventy-five percent of the university’s student body originates from South Dakota’s 66 counties with the remaining twenty-five percent hailing from 43 other states and 29 countries. According to an economic impact report sponsored by the South Dakota Board of Regents and the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry, BHSU generates approximately $258 million of annual economic impact to South Dakota. With a graduate placement rate of over ninety percent, BHSU’s School of Education has firmly established itself as one of the top education programs in the region and the largest teacher preparation program in South Dakota. However, with over 80 bachelor’s, associate’s, and master’s degree programs, BHSU has significantly diversified and grown from its early roots as a “normal school.” The College of Business and Natural Sciences continues to both broaden its mission and increase partnerships with the Black Hills business community. BHSU has earned accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. Only 694 schools of business, or less than five percent worldwide,


have attained this mark of excellence. Furthermore, BHSU-Rapid City has experienced forty percent growth in their associate degree in business program. BHSU is also actively involved in cuttingedge research at the Sanford Underground Research Facility at the former Homestake Gold Mine. Located at the 4,850 level of the lab, the BHSU Underground Campus provides a unique environment for a wide variety of collaborative experiments in physics, chemistry and biology. Recognizing the considerable growth within the outdoor recreation industry, BHSU will offer a new certificate in adventure education beginning this fall. The certificate, which can stand alone or be combined with other academic programs, requires the

completion of coursework in outdoor technical skills, management of outdoor programs, and a wilderness first responder course. This exciting new initiative complements SEDC’s ongoing efforts to attract additional outdoor product companies to our growing community. Earlier this year, South Dakota native Laurie Stenberg Nichols was named BHSU Interim President. Dr. Nichols previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at South Dakota State University as well as University of Wyoming President. SEDC looks forward to partnering with Dr. Nichols and the entire BHSU team on achieving our shared goals for economic prosperity in Spearfish and the Black Hills region.

ANNOUNCING The Booth Society Land Acquisition Campaign The Booth Society Inc. is excited to announce its campaign to raise $300,000 to complete our purchase of 64.62 acres of pristine land adjacent to the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives. Conserving this property will: • Enhance wildlife habitat • Expand educational outreach • Protect historic integrity of the hatchery • Preserve in perpetuity the land in its natural state • Protect the hatchery watershed and ground water supply

Together, We Can Conserve This Incredible Land For Future Generations Contribute today • Via Paypal on our website • Send a check to the Booth Society, 423 Hatchery Circle, Spearfish SD 57783. op your donation off at the hatchery.

Visit the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery & Archives For more information contact the Booth Society, Inc Website: email: Phone: 605-642-7730


On the money with

RICK KAHLER Financial stress in times of transition


tress is what happens when something you care about is at stake. This definition comes from Susan Bradley, CFP, author of Sudden Money and a specialist in the financial aspect of life transitions. The stress around these transitions is a common reason that people seek out financial advice. We tend to be driven to consult advisors as a result of stressful changes in our lives, such as a divorce, a sudden money event like an inheritance or insurance settlement, an investment or job loss, retirement, or the death of a loved one. While all these life events certainly have financial components, it’s almost always the emotional components of the change—how we respond to them—that are the cause of the stress. Any change includes three stages: an ending, a period of passage while we relate and adapt to the change, and a new beginning. This period of transition can be fraught with emotion and behaviors that can trip us up in many ways, including financially. Susan identifies nine such emotions and behaviors that she sees commonly in people in transition. LACK OF IDENTITY. If the transition results in the loss of a familiar role—spouse or employee, for example—you may struggle with “Who am I now? “There is often confusion and ambivalence about the



future, and an inability to make decisions. CONFUSION/ OVERWHELM/FOG. There is a sense of defeat by everything. You may physically slump, have a glazed-over look, and ask others to repeat a lot. It’s hard to understand, be present, respond, focus, or move forward. HOPELESSNESS. You may have a sense of having given up, not being in control of your fate, or being a victim. It may seem that there is nothing you can do to change yourself or the outcome. Financial decisionmaking is very difficult. INVINCIBILITY. This can happen with a big positive change in your finances. You may think everything is going to turn out fine. You may feel euphoric, confident, and smarter than your advisors. You may spend more and take greater investment risks. MENTAL AND PHYSICAL FATIGUE. Change can be exhausting, and the exhaustion can go undetected by others and even yourself. You may have difficulty following an agenda and tasks. NUMB/WITHDRAWN. You may feel ambivalent about and indifferent to exploring the changes in your life, what you want, and what the future may hold. You don’t give much feedback and are withdrawn and nonexpressive. You may miss or not return phone calls or emails. The planning process often comes to a standstill.






NARROW OR FRACTURED FOCUS. You may either be preoccupied with one area that excludes everything else or have an inability to focus on anything. In either case, focusing on what’s important becomes difficult or impossible. INCONSISTENT BEHAVIOR. This is the inability to hold to one position. Instead, you may change your mind repeatedly or switch between opposite positions. You are uncertain and often embrace opposites in your wants and desires in the same breath. Making decisions become impossible. COMBATIVE. You may hold on to feelings of anger, resentment, victimization, and rage regardless of the facts.




You are outwardly emotionally expressive and challenging. You don’t respond well to logic and practicality. A combative person doesn’t have problems making decisions, but does have difficulty making good decisions that are in their best interests. Emotions and behaviors like these are generally temporary. Financial decisions made in the midst of transition-based stress, though, can have lasting negative consequences. The support of trustworthy advisors can be invaluable in navigating through both painful and joyful life changes. Rick Kahler, MSFP, ChFC, CFP, is a fee-only financial planner and author based in Rapid City. Find more information at

+ Home Renovations + Vacations + Business Ventures

Offer subject to credit approval. Rate will vary depending on credit history. Offer is 1% reduction from the individual’s applicable qualifying rate through September 30, 2020. Offer expires September 30, 2019. Rates are variable and are subject to increase after consummation. Some restrictions apply. Call us at 605.718.1818 or 800.482.2428 for details.

Profile for Rapid City Journal

Black Hills Business September 2019  

Black Hills Business September 2019