DEC. 1, 2008 - VOL. 44 NO. 3t.

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Chair's Column
Legislators face funding challenges this session

By Dave Fleck
2008-09 Chair of the Board

Dave Fleck
Dave Fleck
2008-09 Chair of the Board

Recently, Chamber members were asked to provide input on our 2009 Legislative Platform by participating in our annual electronic issues survey. Thanks to all of you who shared your opinions about issues important to you, your business and to the Sioux Falls area business community. Our Issues Management Council will make recommendations to the Board of Directors, who will then vote on the platform recommendations this month. The Chamber will use the platform to guide our advocacy and lobbying efforts during the 2009 South Dakota Legislative Session.

This issue of Chamber News includes our annual guide to area legislators with their contact information and their views about potential challenges facing the government this session. The survey results are still being compiled, but indications are that the issues that are important to the business community will closely mirror the responses from the legislators. In addition to balancing the budget, legislators mentioned funding for infrastructure and education as major challenges facing them this session.

Infrastructure is important for a growing community like Sioux Falls. With a tighter economy and reductions in funding at the federal level for much-needed projects, finding funds for new projects is becoming difficult as is finding funds to maintain the infrastructure we have in place. The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce continues to monitor infrastructure funding options and alternatives at the local, state and federal levels. Recently, the Chamber hosted South Dakota Department of Transportation Secretary Darrin Bergquist to talk about the federal funding challenges we face. It appears there are no easy solutions and that all budgets are facing similar challenges — this legislative session will be an important one to follow as Chamber members and taxpayers.

For several years now, the Chamber has supported additional funding for K-12 education. Education funding seems to be one of the last important issues decided during the session. While increasing funds is supported by many communities across the state, much work remains to be done now and in the future for education and teacher pay. Our Chamber will continue to work with a coalition of business groups across the state and advocate to enhance additional funding for education.

Want to know more or get involved? This issue of Chamber News also includes upcoming opportunities during the 2009 Legislative Session for Chamber members to interact with our area elected officials. Sign up to receive Legislative Lookout, the electronic bulletin that details activities happening during the session and tracks bills; or attend Sioux Falls Day at the Legislature, the Good Morning Sioux Falls Legislative Breakfast or any of the four Legislative Coffees during the session. With the challenging economy, the Chamber's advocacy efforts on behalf of the Sioux Falls area business community at the local and state levels are more important than ever.

Recently, hundreds of Chamber volunteers hand-delivered our 2008-09 editions of the Chamber's Membership Directory and Sioux Falls Community Guide at our annual Operation Thank You event. These publications help you market your business to potential clients and future Sioux Falls residents who contact the Chamber for information about relocating to the Sioux Falls area. As we enter the holiday season, the Membership Directory is even more important. We encourage you to use the directory when making purchasing decisions this holiday season — and year-round. Doing business with other Chamber members is good business and helps our local economy stay vibrant.

We started the 2008-09 Chamber year focusing on all the positive things happening in our community and within our Chamber. We need to keep that mindset as we close out 2008 and prepare to start a new year. The number of new members, ribbon cuttings and members celebrating their Chamber anniversaries listed in this issue are a testament to the strength of our business community, despite national trends or negative news headlines. I'd like to congratulate the Lloyd/Rickert development team for their recent groundbreaking at the Dawley Farm Village. This project represents a number of new jobs and opportunities in Sioux Falls and is another positive sign of economic growth.

Thank you all for your continued investment in the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. I wish you and yours a happy, healthy holiday season.



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