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.


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.

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.

Hospital Bond Election

Avera Hand County HospitalThe upcoming hospital renovation and expansion is an important project for our community and surrounding area. Strong health care providers are one of the key ingredients of a successful and vibrant community. 

The hospital is finalizing their financing for the project and as part of their financing package they are requesting general obligation bonds (GO bonds) through Hand County. A county election is required to issue the GO bonds. There have been a couple of public meetings to explain this process and to answer questions. If you missed the meetings, don’t worry, there are more to come. Here are the meeting dates and places:

  • Tuesday, November 17, 7:30 pm, Miller Fire Hall
  • Monday, November 23, 7:30 pm, St. Lawrence Community Room

 The county election is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8. A “Yes” vote will allow the county to issue the GO bonds. The hospital will pay for these bonds and all associated costs through their lease payments to the county.

 Following is some summary information about the hospital expansion and renovation.

 Organizational History

  • Since 1947, Hand County owns the entire health care campus. 
  • In 1985, the decision was made to lease the campus to Hand County Memorial Hospital Inc. (HCMH). 
  • Present, Hand County leases the entire campus to HCMH who subleases space to Vision Care, and AMK, while operating the community based services.


  • The project will remodel approximately 13,600 square feet of existing space and add 15,400 square feet of new space, while eliminating 12,000 square feet of non-health care usable space. 


  • Total project cost is $5.6M.
  • They are seeking USDA loans/bonds in the amount of $3.55M.  Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital & Clinic (AHC) will pay all bond related costs.
  • The hospital foundation has pledges over 5 years now exceeding $1M. 
  • $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants are available if the program is fully funded in 2010.
  • They are also applying for a Rural Electric Economic Development (REED) Fund loan @ 0% interest for ten years. 
  • Balance will be through HCMH Inc reserves.


  • Because the hospital campus is owned by the county, the USDA Rural Development has directed them to seek General Obligation Bonds (GO Bonds) through the County to finance the project.
  • All bond costs would be paid by the hospital, including the principle, interest, election costs, bond fees and closing costs.  There will be no tax increase as a result of the County GO Bond.
  • The GO Bond process requires a simple majority election of the residents of Hand County, to vote on any bond issuance of the County. 

If you have any questions regarding the project, you can call Bryan Breitling, the hospital administrator, at 853-0399.

Miller Housing Committee

HousingWe have been receiving feedback at the On Hand Development office that people moving to town are having a hard time finding affordable housing. The Miller Housing Committee has been created to study the housing situation in the Miller area. The mission of the committee is to find out the specific housing needs in the Miller area and to develop a plan to address those needs.

People may ask why On Hand Development is working on housing and how does that relate to economic development. Economic development involves helping our local businesses expand and new businesses get started. That means that these businesses will hire new employees and new employees need an affordable place to live. Insufficient housing will have a negative impact on the growth of new and existing businesses.

Committee members include Joe Fiala, Kurt Pfeifle, Ron Blachford, Dick Palmer, Mike Beaner, Dan Coss, Bryan Breitling, and Mike Ruth.

As part of this project, the committee will be conducting some surveys through the mail. They may also have an independent party conduct a telephone survey to gather pertinent data related to our community’s housing needs.

If you are contacted to provide information for one of our surveys please take the time to answer the questions. We would really appreciate your cooperation and it will allow us to get a clear picture of the housing situation in the Miller area. If you have suggestions or questions, feel free to contact us or stop by the office.