• June 2019

Five questions with Brienne Maner


Brienne Maner has long been a champion of small businesses. She is using that passion in her new role as Executive Director of the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship. A Sioux Falls native, and proud graduate of Washington High School, Maner earned a bachelor's degree from St. Cloud State University. She actively supports a large number of local nonprofits and is one of the driving forces behind a grassroots feminine hygiene product drive for The Banquet. Maner and her husband, Brian, have one daughter, Pearl, and a puggle, Eddie Money.

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing our community today? And how should we
tackle it?

A: Workforce development. The best thing Sioux Falls has going for it when it comes to recruiting talent is Sioux Falls. When people visit and see what we have to offer, they want to stay. That's where even more collaborative efforts between the City of Sioux Falls, Chamber of Commerce, CVB, DTSF and similar organizations could really help raise the city's profile nationally.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: It's Not Easy Being a Bunny, by Marilyn Sadler. I mostly read to my daughter these days. However, I just finished listening to The Dropout, the documentary podcast series about Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos debacle.

Q: What is a skill that you'd like to learn and why?

A: Speaking Spanish. Being able to communicate clearly with the second-largest number of native speakers in the country would present an incredible opportunity in my current position.

Q: What are some ways to strengthen connections between the entrepreneur community and the broader business community?

A: The entrepreneur community and the broader business community have a lot in common and a lot to learn from one another, so maybe the first step is to begin thinking of them as a single community. Both take risks, both are invested in growing our workforce and spurring our local economy, and both are depending on city leaders to help keep Sioux Falls a vibrant and competitive city in which to grow their business. They might be on slightly different paths, but their destination is the same.

Q: If you could witness any event of the past, present or future, what would it be?

A: My husband and I met a bit later in life, and I'd love to witness the first time I interacted with him or was in the same room with him, as our lives have intersected since our high school days.

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