MAR. 9, 2017 - VOL. 52 No. 6

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Chair´s Column

The secret sauce for a great city

By Dave Kapaska, D.O.
2016-17 Chair of the Board

Dave Kapaska
Dave Kapaska, D.O.
2016-17 Chair of the Board

Again and again over the decades, the "secret sauce" of Sioux Falls has been the difference between mediocrity and greatness as leaders before us built this amazing city. What's in that sauce? We might have slightly different words for it, but I think it comes down to vision, generosity and moxie: Vision to think creatively about the future; generosity that links personal success to civic good; and moxie - courage - to act boldly.

That really defines the Chamber's dynamic role as a partner in the city's progress. I'd like to think Chamber members over time have crafted the recipe for that "secret sauce" of community and business leadership that we see playing out today in so many ways.

We see it in the frontier of biomedical research as businesses and universities in our region forge alliances that diversify our vibrant economy while opening up exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs and skilled workers. (Don't miss our cover story on that topic.)

We also see that unique leadership at the very heart of Forward Sioux Falls 2021, the Chamber's partnership with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation to attract business, enhance job growth and improve the quality of our lives. One important part of that effort is Sioux Falls Thrive, an innovative cradle-to-career initiative designed to respond to the basic needs of our most vulnerable - children. The goal: help people help themselves in a way that prepares them for good jobs and productive lives as citizens of this great city.

Thrive will coordinate collective impact initiatives and measure our progress. The non-profit will roll out projects to tackle specific community needs. First on the list: housing - or the lack of good alternatives for low-income families.

The root of many of our challenges is the growing numbers of children living at or below the poverty level. Between 2008 and 2014, the number of children in Sioux Falls grew by 10 percent, but the number living in poverty grew by 30 percent. Kids are unlikely to succeed academically when their families struggle to provide a safe home and adequate nutrition or don't have the ability to help with their studies. In a city where half of all elementary school children live in the shadow of poverty, at a time when nearly 900 kids lack stable housing, it's time for our community to extend the hand of opportunity so that everyone gets a shot at building a meaningful life.

We are fortunate to have some impressive partners such as the Community Foundation, Sioux Empire United Way, the Bush Foundation and Augustana University, which is providing invaluable research as we assess needs.

I'm proud that this Chamber is leading efforts to meet this and other challenges head on. I hope you, as a vitally important member, share that pride - and sense of urgency. Since the earliest days of Sioux Falls, the Chamber has been a progressive force for good in this place we call home.

Vision. Generosity. Moxie. Together, they form the secret sauce of opportunity - today and for generations to come. Let's move forward together.

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