What Has OHDC Done This Year?

man_at_deskA Miller resident dropped by the office this week and asked, “What has On Hand Development done this year?” It was a good question and as I answered him, we had an in-depth discussion. After he left, I decided to gather some statistics and share them with the community.

The mission of On Hand Development Corporation (OHDC) is to maintain and assist in the expansion of existing businesses and support the growth of new businesses while striving to improve the economy of the Miller area.

As part of meeting our mission I regularly meet with business owners and prospective business owners in our area. This year I have met with 81 business owners or prospective business owners. These meetings cover a wide range of services that OHDC has available and how they can be leveraged by business owners.

One of the primary services we offer is business planning assistance. In 2011 I have assisted 36 people with business planning. Business planning is a wide-ranging topic and can be simple or complex. As an example, with one business owner I simply discussed how business was over the past few months and then we brainstormed ways to improve their bottom line. In another case, I met with a prospective business owner multiple times and helped them create a business plan complete with projected sales figures, projected expenses, and available financing options.

Another service we provide is helping people find a location for their new business or a better location for their existing business. So far in 2011 we have assisted nine people in identifying properties that would work for their business.

One of the most significant programs that is available to new or existing businesses in our revolving loan fund. At the start of 2011 we had five loans extended for a total of $132,000. Currently we have four loans out for a total of $129,000. These funds are used by the business owners to grow or expand their business. In many cases this results in jobs being retained or created by the business.

Hiring new employees can be a challenge in South Dakota due to our low unemployment rate. Over the years we have assisted our local business owners in this area and 2011 is no different. So far this year we have worked with six businesses by finding ways they can advertise for, recruit, and ultimately hire new employees.

These are just a few of the ways we have been assisting our local business owners and prospective business owners this year. We are involved in a multitude of other activities that impact our local economy and I’ll highlight some of them in future articles. If you would like to inquire about any of these services or ask how OHDC can assist your business, please stop by the office or call 853-3098.

Miller Area Lunch

The second anniversary of the Miller Area Lunch was held on December 15 and it was well attended. We had a good lunch, interesting conversation, and discussed a topic titled “Working Together You Can Build It Yourself.” What is the Miller Area Lunch and why does OHDC host it?

The lunch is an opportunity for all of the boards and organizations in Miller, St. Lawrence, Ree Heights, and Hand County to get together and discuss upcoming projects, goals, and any other topic that has an impact on our area. We meet at a restaurant at 12 p.m., order lunch, and then discuss a topic related to community development.

Topics that we have discussed in the past are wide-ranging but include housing, making our area a good place for young people to live, sustaining our business community, developing our recreational opportunities, and strategic planning for organizations.

Everyone is invited to the Miller Area Lunch. It is important to have members of the various boards in attendance such as the county commission, city council, school board, community foundation, hospital board, OHDC board, C&C board, etc. However, it is just as important to have members of civic groups and interested individuals attend.

One of the more informative features of the lunch is when we go around the room and everyone gives an update on the projects that their organization is involved in. Not only does everyone learn what is going on in town but the information is reliable and straight from the source. Many times people realize that they can collaborate on a project or idea, which can save money and time.

We end the lunch at 1 p.m. so that everyone can get back to his or her workplace or business. That gives us enough time to have a good discussion while not wasting people’s time.

I would encourage you to attend the Miller Area Lunch or have a representative from your organization attend. The meeting is held on the third Wednesday of each month at 12 p.m. Please call OHDC at 853-3098 a couple of days beforehand to RSVP and to find out the location of the meeting.

Overview of OHDC

Finding help when you’re in business can sometimes be time-consuming and confusing. That’s why On Hand Development Corporation (OHDC) exists. We’re here to assist businesses find resources that can help. OHDC was created in 1987 by a group of local citizens to help keep the Hand County area vital and growing. For over 20 years, we have been “on hand” and working toward that goal.

Our official mission statement is “to maintain and assist in the expansion of existing businesses and support the growth of new businesses while striving to improve the economy of the Miller area.”

We have a number of programs and services that are available to members of the community. These include business financing assistance, site location assistance, start-up support, and business planning assistance. We encourage and help organize youth business education, entrepreneurship programs, community development initiatives, and business education events.

A key program to help our business community is the OHDC revolving loan fund (RLF). This resource can provide financing, in conjunction with owner equity and bank financing, for a new or existing business. Funds can be used to for land, a building, remodeling, new construction, new equipment, or working capital. The RLF was created through a $100,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the USDA Rural Development office.

We collaborate with a number of other organizations to help businesses get the resources they need to be successful. These organizations include the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Northeast Council of Governments, USDA Rural Development, SD Small Business Development Center, Value Added Agriculture Development Center, and many others.

For assistance, simply contact us by phone at 605-853-3098, by email at joe@millersd.org, or stop in the office at 103 West 3rd Street. We would be happy discuss what we can do to assist your company. Whether you’re just getting started or are already an established business, OHDC is ready to work for you.

SDWEA Annual Meeting

The SD Wind Energy Association (SDWEA) recently held their annual meeting and I had the opportunity to attend. Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI) hosted the meeting at its south campus location. MTI was a good fit for the meeting since they have a Wind Turbine Technology program. Hand County native Clayton Deuter made a brief appearance at the meeting in his capacity as Director of Admission for MTI.

SDWEA supports the development of wind energy as a sustainable, economic, and environmentally friendly resource for all of South Dakota. On Hand Development is a member of SDWEA. We have supported the organization since its inception in January 2009.

A new study entitled Envisioning One Thousand Megawatts of New Capacity and Transmission Assessment was distributed at the meeting. SDWEA commissioned the study and Stuefen Research prepared it. The study outlined the economic impact of adding 1,000 MW of capacity in Deuel and Brookings counties. The bottom line is that this type of project would have $2 billion of economic impact and would add over 5,000 full and part time jobs during construction. It would create 184 permanent full and part time jobs.

While the numbers don’t translate directly to Hand County for various reasons, the study does give us an idea of the scale of this kind of project.  For reference, the Titan I wind farm south of Ree Heights currently produces 25 MW of electricity and employs five people. If you would like a copy of the 1,000 MW study, just stop by the office.

The presenters at the meeting noted that demand for wind-generated electricity is lower than previous years. The slowdown in the economy and the low cost of natural gas are the main causes for the drop in demand. This is a temporary situation and as the economy improves, the demand for electricity will increase.

The folks from South Dakota State University that run the Wind Application Center and the Wind for Schools program gave presentations too. You may have noticed that Miller High School now has a Wind for Schools turbine installed. The electrical components still need to be installed. Once that is completed, the students can use the turbine to study wind energy in our own school.

We will continue to monitor the wind energy industry and to support initiatives and legislation that will lead to wind energy development in our area. Our membership in SDWEA is an important component of supporting the growth of the wind energy in SD.

Monthly Regional Newsletter

The Miller Civic and Commerce Association and On Hand Development Corporation will be collaborating with organizations in east central South Dakota (ECSD) to produce a monthly newsletter. The newsletter will be a full color, “glossy magazine style” publication that will keep area residents informed of local activities, visitor events, city and county news, and economic development information.

The Huron Chamber of Commerce and Greater Huron Development Corporation have been publishing a monthly newsletter in a 2-color tabloid-size format for several years. You may have seen this newspaper insert titled “Team Huron”. They decided to upgrade their newsletter to the full color, glossy format and to invite the surrounding communities to be part of the publication.  Counties that will be included are Beadle, Hand, Jerauld, Kingsbury, Sanborn, and Spink.

The new magazine represents the first “regional retail and economic development magazine” launched in South Dakota. It will be the primary tool to develop a regional approach to enhancing visitor spending, retail awareness, and economic development.

Through the new publication, ECSD communities can celebrate local business accomplishments on a regional basis. This will increase the business’s profile and draw attention to job opportunities and economic development success stories that often go unnoticed. Working together, the region will become more visible as a desirable location for expansion and/or business relocation further establishing our area’s reputation as a business friendly environment.

The magazine will be distributed the fourth Sunday of each month in the Huron Daily Plainsman and in weekly papers in the six-county area. It addition, it will now be placed in motel rooms and be available at doctor, dentist, and other professional offices. The Miller C&C is looking at the possibility of having a copy mailed directly to each C&C member.

Area businesses will have the opportunity to advertise and reach a broad audience in ECSD using this publication. Brad McGirr of Creative Printing, the magazine’s printer, will be in the Hand County area over the next couple of weeks to meet with business owners regarding this advertising opportunity. You may also contact him directly at (605) 352-6565.

The Miller Civic & Commerce and On Hand Development Corporation are looking forward to participating in this new magazine. If you have any questions or need additional information please feel free to contact us.

OHDC Board of Directors

Occasionally, someone will ask a question about the On Hand Development board of directors. They may be curious about who is currently on the board, how someone gets on the board, or when the next election is. I’ll try to provide a good summary of our board of directors and answer some of those questions.

We can have from seven to eleven directors on the board in a number of different categories. Three positions are governmental directors and include one City of Miller council member, one Hand County commissioner, and one Miller School District board member, or their representative. The governmental directors are selected by those respective organizations’ governing bodies and appointed to the OHDC board each year.

Three at large directors are elected by the members of the Miller Civic and Commerce. One at large director is elected each year at the annual OHDC and C&C meeting held at the end of January. These directors serve a three-year term.

The OHDC board of directors appoints the remaining directors, from one to five positions, for three-year terms. Two of these positions are designated as finance directors and must have a background in banking, financial products, accounting, or similar areas.

We currently have eleven members on the board and they include:

  •  Joe Zeller, City of Miller council member
  • Jim Iverson, Hand County commissioner
  • Kevin Watts, Miller School District board member
  • Becky Nelson, President and at large director
  • JoAnn Morford, at large director
  • Travis Anderberg, at large director
  • Tim Prince, Vice-president and finance director
  • Laine Warkenthien, Secretary/Treasurer and finance director
  • Greg Rediger, appointed director
  • Bryan Breitling, appointed director
  • Tiffany Hofer, appointed director

It is important to have a diverse and committed board of directors. As outlined above, there are several mechanisms for joining the board. We would welcome any interest people may have in joining. Simply give me a call at 853-3098 or stop by the office to let me know.

Are We Ready for Retirees?

We all know that South Dakota is a wonderful place to retire. The people at MoneyRates.com know that too (via Reimagine Rural). They recently published a list of the 10 best retirement states and SD ranked third best in the nation (Richard Barrington, “10 Best States to Retire,” MoneyRates.com). SD ranks below New Hampshire and Hawaii and just above North Dakota.

Why did SD rank so high on the list? MoneyRates.com ranked the states on the following criteria: economics, climate, crime rate, and life expectancy. Our state did very well in economics and crime rate due to our low cost of living and lack of crime. Climate was our weak point but we still fared better than states like ND.

How does this information relate to economic development? Attracting retirees to our area would certainly impact our population, our housing market, our business community, and our city’s sales tax income. The members of the baby boom generation are nearing retirement age and that presents an exciting opportunity for those communities that are ready.

This is interesting information but the real question is, “Would people really retire to SD?” A study from the USDA Department of Agriculture provides some insights into answering that question. The study describes that baby boomers increasingly want to retire in rural and small-town destinations (Cromartie and Nelson, “Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America”, 2009). That is good news because we fit the bill perfectly.

Many of the pieces are already in place to make Hand County an attractive area for retirees. However, it will require a community-wide focus to successfully draw retirees here. On Hand Development, our city councils, and county commissioners will need to actively work toward this goal. Our business community, service organizations, faith institutions, and health care facilities all have part to play too. By working together, we can take hold of this opportunity and ensure the long-term vitality of our communities and county.

High School Big Idea Competition

Do you have a big idea for a new business? If you do (and you’re in high school) the Big Idea competition is right up your alley.

High school students can compete for cash and scholarships by submitting a 1,075-word description of their business idea. Returning again this year is the Marketing Design competition where students can choose to also create a logo and ad for their idea. This competition for high school students in Aberdeen and the surrounding region was created through the collaborative efforts of many organizations and is funded by Absolutely!Aberdeen.

This competition is about exposing youth to new ideas and innovation in the hopes that you will view entrepreneurship as an option for your future. Rather than leaving the region to look for a job, you can have the confidence to create your own opportunities close to home and know that there is support for you should you choose to do so. Homegrown businesses are key to the success of our rural communities.

Cash prizes, a chance to meet other students interested in entrepreneurship, recognition and awards are just some of the features of this competition. The first place winner will receive $1,000, second place wins $500 and $250 for third place. College scholarships will also be awarded. A $500 prize is awarded to the winner of the marketing design competition.

On Hand Development would assist any students that are interested in entering the contest. Just give us a call at 853-3098.

SD Housing Lowers Rates

The SD Housing Development Authority has lowered its interest rates for first-time homebuyers to the lowest rate in history.

The interest rate for starting step rate loans is 2.75%. Fixed rate loans have been reduced to 3.75%, and the fixed rate plus option loan rate was reduced to 4.25%.

If you are a business owner in the Miller area and these rate reductions help one of your employees purchase  house, please let me know. I’d be interested in hearing the details.

Is the Census Important for Miller?

Paperwork and I have a love/hate relationship. I love to ignore it and hate to fill it out. The 2010 Census is different. It takes just 10 minutes to fill out and it only comes around once every 10 years. That is my kind of paperwork.

Thinking about the census brings up a couple of questions. Is the census important for Miller? Why is it important? Here are a few answers from the official census website:

  • The federal government uses population data to allocate funds in a number of areas including Title 1 grants to school districts, the WIC program, public transportation (think about the Miller Wheels and Meals), road rehabilitation and construction, and programs for the elderly.
  • Census data helps homeowners research property values, median income, and other demographic information about a particular community.
  • Corporations use population data to determine locations for commercial enterprises such as food stores, pharmacies, and other essential services.

The census really lays the groundwork for the next ten years. As a community, it will help us make decisions in government, education, health care, economic development, business planning and many other areas.

When the form comes out in April please take the time to fill it out and return it.

In 2000, Hand County only had a response rate of 70%. The average response rate for counties in SD was 74%. I bet we can do better than that this time around.

I’m really curious to see how the numbers will turn out for Miller and Hand County. Even though it is a little more paperwork to fill out, I’ll be filling out my census form and I hope you will too.