Making Connections
By Stacy Aesoph, BEDC Director of Workforce Development

When it comes to workforce, we not only need to recruit more people to Brookings, but we also need to retain the people who already live in our community.

Meet Joe Smith. He moved to Brookings six months ago, for a job at SDSU. Joe’s wife, Jane, is a stay-at-home mom with two school-age children.

Joe and Jane attended a few community events to try to make friends. At one event, Jane met a woman who said, “Sorry, Jane, but I already have enough friends.” Joe tried to join a local group, but was told “our group is full.”

Joe and Jane are having a tough time making friends and building relationships. They are frustrated and don’t feel welcome in the community. So, Joe starts looking for a new job in a different city. Within three months, Joe and Jane move to a different community for a different job opportunity.

How does this impact our community? SDSU spent many hours and a lot of dollars to hire Joe. Now they have to start over. The community lost a wonderful family. The schools have two fewer children attending.

If you have lived in Brookings for most of your life, or attended SDSU and then stayed after graduating, you probably have a good group of friends established. You have roots here and Brookings feels like home.

To a new resident of Brookings, it can be challenging to make friends because everyone already has their friendships established.

Our fictional characters of Joe and Jane Smith are a common example of what happens to new residents in Brookings. If we want to retain these people here, we need to help them make connections.

That’s why Beyond Connections was established.

Beyond Connections brings people together to welcome new residents, network and build relationships for a thriving Brookings community.

Think of Beyond Connections like Meetup, where people get together through a variety of activities based on their interests.

Beyond Connections’ launch event was held on January 20 at Wooden Legs Brewing. The social event was a huge success with more than 40 people attending, including new residents and community members.

Future events will be held on a monthly basis. The event in March is a painting party at Old Market.

Beyond Connections encourages community members to host events for new residents too! For example, if you love to go snowshoeing at Dakota Nature Park, perhaps you would like to host a snowshoeing activity for new residents.

If you want to get involved with Beyond Connections, or know a new resident who could benefit from the group, please contact me at You can find more information about Beyond Connections by visiting the Newcomer page on or the Beyond Connections Facebook page.

Together, we can help Brookings thrive through making connections!

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