Jay Rasmussen is the volunteer event chair for the Chamber’s 2020 Annual Meeting. He is a familiar face in the community thanks to his extensive volunteer service. In addition to the Chamber, he is involved in the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Forward Sioux Falls, Feeding South Dakota, The Banquet and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Professionally, Jay is the vice president of business development for Journey Group. He has been married to his wife, Allison, for 30 years and they have three sons: Grant, Lance and Ethan.
Q: What is something that makes Sioux Falls extraordinary?
A: Our community has an exceptional ability to stand together to get things done and move forward no matter what complexities are thrown at us. Day to day competitors band together to solve urgent needs as well as collaborate on developing long term strategic vision for our community.
Q: Why do you choose to volunteer your time for the Chamber?
A: I volunteer because of the example set by past visionaries. When I was 16 years old, it must have been take your kid to work day because one day my dad brought me along to a meeting with Ray Trankle and a team of other community leaders. I remember Ray saying, “Today we are going to figure out how we are going to raise the dollars to build a facility and serve an important need in our community.” The Boys and Girls Club facility on East 14th street was born out of that meeting. The day was pretty cool just being with dad, but I didn’t completely understand the impact that event would have on my life until many years later after returning to this great community with my family. You don’t know how good you have it until you experience other areas in our country that don’t have a strong chamber and community leaders like ours. To me, membership in our Chamber is a given for every business and the glue that holds us together to move our community forward.
Q: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: Many people know I have a passion for the outdoors but most don’t know that passion often takes me under water. SCUBA has opened my eyes to new worlds and ecosystems – from the Cayman Islands and Florida Keys to the mighty Missouri River and local South Dakota lakes. We are truly blessed to live in a place with so many opportunities to enjoy and explore both indoors and outdoors.
Q: How did you choose your profession?
A: I’ve always enjoyed solving problems and building things – the more intense and complex the better. Craig Lloyd gave me an opportunity to learn about the construction business during summers in high school. Most days I was sweeping floors and cleaning construction sites, but I saw a whole new world of building processes, materials and problem solving. That evolved into framing houses and apartments and eventually a construction engineering program. Opportunities have come one construction project at a time. As you build projects you build relationships, which has led me to the business development side of construction. From building blocks to building buildings to building relationships…that has been the evolution of my career and my passion. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: What is something you are optimistic about?
A: The future success of Sioux Falls. I am confident that Sioux Falls will continue to grow, continue to solve issues and bring prosperity to us personally and professionally. I look forward to a bright, collaborative, and inclusive Sioux Falls.
More questions with Jay
Q: Can you offer any hints of what is to come at this year’s Chamber Annual Meeting?
A: Despite COVID-19, we will still celebrate at our annual meeting October 20. Just like our member businesses, this year’s planning committee has been very flexible through these extremely uncertain times. Initial plans included a national speaker and celebration similar to the last several years. Then COVID hit, and as last year’s speaker Sekou Andrews eloquently said “TURN!!!" We turned from complete in person event to complete virtual event and have landed in the middle with a hybrid in person and virtual celebration that will bring a national speaker who will focus on Sioux Falls and our ability to lead the country through traumatic crisis and adversity.
Q: What is a skill that you’d like to learn and why?
A: How to play a musical instrument, let alone carry a tune. I am amazed with the talent we have in our community from Christmas at Cathedral to shows at the Washington Pavilion to concerts at the Levitt Shell and many more.
Q: Describe your perfect day in Sioux Falls.
A: Everyday. Whether it’s 95 degrees above or 35 degrees below there’s always a warm hand to help out with your journey both personally and professionally.
Q: What tool do you find indispensable?
A: The gift of empathy. Being able to grow, learn and understand others is the first step in being able to help others prosper physically, mentally and spiritually. In turn, we are making this community we call home a better place to live and raise our families.
Q: What is one community or non-profit organization that you support? Tell us about it and why it is important to you.
A: I am fortunate to serve so many uplifting and worthy organizations, I wouldn’t single out just one. Each organization fulfills specifics needs throughout our community. Staff are dedicated and volunteers are engaged to provide vision and financial stability these organizations need to carry out their missions.
Q: In your opinion, what is one of the most significant changes in our community in the last 10 years?
A: Forward Sioux Falls continues to catapult our community forward. The vision and construct of Foundation Park has given us growth opportunities unseen by previous generations. Most recently, COVID has reset our definition of normal. I respect the leadership that Mayor Paul TenHaken has demonstrated. His vision, collaboration, and sense of calm have carried us through some very difficult times; floods, tornados, and now COVID. He has positively influenced all of us in this community. I look forward to a bright future with Paul at the helm.