Making the Grade – 2016 Economic Health Report Card
By Kristi Larsen, BEDC Marketing Director

Everything we do at BEDC revolves around one ultimate goal – growing the economy. Essentially, this is the reason for our existence! At the end of each year, we review our community’s economic health to make sure we are headed in the right direction. Some of the important metrics that we grade include: construction projects, sales tax revenues, employment statistics and population growth. So, how did we score in 2016?

Building Permits: With 451 construction projects totaling $52,862,587, residential and commercial growth remained steady. Some of the larger projects included the Cinema Theatre expansion, SDSU Alumni Center addition and SGS’s new facility east of the interstate. By our unofficial tally, we had at least 32 new businesses and 12 expanding businesses last year. A+

Sales Tax: Taxable sales for the city grew by 4.57% over 2015 and have grown 31% over the last five years. Compared to our peer communities, Huron was the only city that showed a higher year over year growth at 5.63%. The two metropolitan communities of Sioux Falls and Rapid City showed a 3.08% and 1.26% increase respectively, while Aberdeen, Watertown and Mitchell all had less sales in 2016 compared to 2015. Keep shopping local, those purchases make a huge difference in our economy! A+

Employment: The most recent data from the Department of Labor shows the number of employed workers in Brookings County at 18,468, with an average annual wage of $40,404 and a low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Thanks to the continued growth and success of local businesses, the number of employees has grown 8.1% over the last five years. A+

Population: Census estimates show the population for Brookings at 23,657, a 25% increase over the last ten years. Brookings County gained 503 people from 2014 to 2015, the third highest number of people added in the state behind Minnehaha County and Lincoln County. A+

Metrics are important to keep an eye on, but we also like to keep track of the recognition our community receives. These are the “extra credit” points on our report card that put Brookings on the map and help draw more people to our community. Let’s take a look at some of the 2016 acknowledgements:

· – Best Place to Live in S.D.
·       USA Today – Named S.D.’s “Beautiful Small Towns in each State”
·       America’s Main Street – Top 10 Finalist
·       Livability – Top 100 Best Places to Live
·       Health Science Degree Guide – Healthiest Small Towns in America
·       US News and World Report named SDSU the most affordable nationally ranked public university
·       Opened first full makerspace in S.D., which was featured in White House national press release
·       Represented S.D. at White House National Week of Making Event
·       One of 7 regions nationwide selected for Smart Growth America technical assistance program

In addition to community accolades, local businesses like Bel Brands, Cubby’s, Wooden Legs, the Pheasant, Daktronics, the Children’s Museum of S.D., and Brookings Health System all earned recognition last year. And let’s not forget that in September Brookings hosted one of our biggest events to date with the opening of Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. I think we can all see that Brookings earned a 4.0 on its economic health report card for 2016.

Business owners and community leaders want to make sure that the positive momentum we have seen in Brookings continues well into the future. That’s why last year they launched a five-year, $2.5 million Vision Brookings campaign to ensure future economic growth and development.

Brookings residents know that our community is exceptional when it comes to economic health, and through the national recognition we receive each year, others are finding out too. We have set the bar high, and here at BEDC we continue to do everything we can to make sure Brookings ranks at the top of the class!


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