Planning for Growth
Collaboration across the community key
to Sioux Falls´ success
By Amy Smolik
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
NEARLY THREE DECADES AGO, COMMUNITY LEADERS ASKED A QUESTION: WHAT CAN BE DONE TODAY TO ENSURE SUCCESS TOMORROW?
The result was Forward Sioux Falls, the highly-successful joint venture economic development program of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Now in its sixth multi-year program, Forward Sioux Falls epitomizes the success a community can have when collaboration occurs.
The Forward Sioux Falls initiative is one of the many ways that Sioux Falls community leaders continue to invest in visioning processes and develop blueprints for planned growth and progress. Planning and vision and strong community leadership have helped drive projects like SculptureWalk, development of the river greenway and continued redevelopment of the city´s core – all of which add to the economic impact and continued growth of the region.
Recently, several visioning processes and long-range plans completed their activities and volunteers shared their results and their visions with the community.
SIOUX FALLS TOMORROW
Sioux Falls Tomorrow 2014 was the third time Sioux Falls community leaders undertook this community visioning process. It was funded by the City of Sioux Falls, Forward Sioux Falls, Lincoln County, Minnehaha County, Sioux Empire United Way, Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, and the Sioux Falls School District.
"Sioux Falls Tomorrow is not an ongoing entity like Forward Sioux Falls," said Andy Patterson, Vice President at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation and Project Director of Sioux Falls Tomorrow 2014. "Sioux Falls Tomorrow is a community visioning process. It´s an attempt to capture the voice of the people to produce a vision and goals for the community."
Patterson said the 2014 SFT process, like previous iterations, involved community members working toward consensus on what they would like to see changed or achieved. Several stakeholders have been involved in all three processes, with new participants from across the community serving as stakeholders.
Stakeholders were divided into five working groups, called key performance areas; they included: Economic Vitality, Education, Local Government Services, Quality of Life and Social Services. The smaller groups developed goals and action items for each area but didn´t identify a responsible party to take on the action item. The hope is that organizations, both public and private, will utilize the report and assume ownership of the goals to be accomplished over the next several years.
Community members were able to participate in Sioux Falls Tomorrow by volunteering to be a stakeholder, participating in a survey or attending a public forum. The survey was available online or by mailing back an insert from the Argus Leader, and Patterson was pleased with the survey responses, which totaled more than 2,600 participants.
"One of the most exciting things about this whole process is that every step of the way, the community came through," Patterson said. "They want to be involved. They want to be engaged. I think there´s a hopefulness. A thought Of course we can tackle the next thing – we´re Sioux Falls.´"
Six meetings were held from January-May of this year as well as some smaller group meetings. The group started with reports about the community so there was shared knowledge.
City Planning Director Mike Cooper was among the presenters, sharing information about Sioux Falls´ demographics and as well as presenting a list of accomplishments from the last decade that tied into previous Sioux Falls Tomorrow key performance area goals.
Some of the goals from previous SFT blueprints include developing the river greenway as a community asset, growing the parks and recreation system, expanding public facilities, marketing the community, developing quality of life projects, and ensuring collaboration at local government levels.
"Once you get started, the list is pretty impressive," Cooper said. Cooper cited the new Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, Spellerberg Indoor Aquatics Facility, the Forward Sioux Falls National Marketing Task Force, South Dakota Highway 100 implementation, and studies on how to improve all areas of transportation as just some of the major changes that have occurred in the area that have aided growth and development.
Patterson said the next step is for the SFT Steering Committee to reconvene in 2015 to talk about any action taking place in some of the areas and to see what areas may still need to be addressed. They will continue to check in every two years to monitor progress.
"I don´t think it´s very common to have a recurring visioning process like Sioux Falls Tomorrow," Patterson said. "To the extent that all these plans are happening I think says a lot about the community. Continuing to have these community-wide efforts is part of what makes us unique."
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Evan Nolte has been involved in all three Sioux Falls Tomorrow processes. He thinks it is important for a community to develop a comprehensive vision for the future. Long-term planning for the community helps assure that community and business investments are well-planned and directed at priority issues.
"Hopefully, through an inclusive process, we can achieve consensus on that larger vision," Nolte said. "As a result, implementation of plans should be more effective and successful given strong overall community support at the beginning."
SIOUX FALLS CULTURAL PLAN
Though not officially part of the Sioux Falls Tomorrow process, the City´s recently updated cultural plan, "Sioux Falls Imagined," was seen as an adjunct key performance area. At the SFT final meeting, Sioux Falls Tomorrow stakeholders agreed by consensus to endorse the seven long-range goals of the Sioux Falls Cultural Plan and to also include them in the SFT Report to the Sioux Falls area.
The cultural planning process began with the understanding that the arts are a valued component of Sioux Falls´ quality of life, they help drive economic vitality and they make Sioux Falls a better place overall. The most recurring goal throughout Sioux Falls Imagined is to integrate arts, culture and heritage with other pressing concerns of the city, said Sioux Falls Arts Council Executive Director Nan Baker. The Sioux Falls Arts Council leadership, along with an advisory committee, is responsible for carrying out the vision from the plan. The seven long-range goals include: arts education and youth development; arts funding and support; economic/community development and cultural tourism; audience development, access and diversity; cultural facilities and public art; and arts leadership and coordination.
The City of Sioux Falls appointed the steering committee that oversaw the cultural plan in August 2013. From there, the Arts Council recruited volunteers to serve as task force chairs and members. The task forces were to consider the progress made on each goal from 1999. Over the course of the next eight months, the volunteers developed a plan, which was presented to the City of Sioux Falls in July.
"The most common outcome in all the sectors would be the connection of aesthetics, good design and creativity with other public and private efforts. This was the greatest outcome of the 1999 plan; we see this in the look and prosperity of downtown," Baker said. "Our priority will be expanding and bringing awareness to these efforts throughout Sioux Falls."
Now that it has been approved by the City of Sioux Falls, the Cultural plan will be integrated into the comprehensive plan, downtown development plans and parks plans. Baker said arts advocates associated with the Arts Council and Sioux Falls Imagined will be making it a priority to represent and advocate for the cultural sector, making sure that the city´s creativity and heritage is employed to enhance economic and community development, tourism, education and more.
2025 DOWNTOWN PLAN
A 13-member advisory committee, along with help from Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.), is finishing up the 2025 Downtown Plan. Public input was also part of this planning process, with 13 work groups consisting of 100 participants and 50 meetings as well as five community meetings that had more than 150 participants and 1,763 responses from an online survey.
The 2025 Downtown Plan is still being drafted by City staff and will be presented to the Sioux Falls City Council in December after being approved by the Downtown Sioux Falls Board of Directors and Sioux Falls Planning Commission in November.
The 2015 Downtown plan was last updated in 2002, using the groundwork laid by the 1994 Sioux Falls Tomorrow community-based plan and the 1999 Sioux Empire Cultural Plan. Project Director Dustin Powers said the updated versions of both those plans were also taken into consideration in crafting the Downtown 2025 plan.
"Our plan is specific to the downtown area," Powers said, while the other plans are more community-wide. "We made sure that we are consistent and have reviewed those plans. We had representation working with those groups who also took part in this process."
The public will have the opportunity to weigh in later this fall. Powers said the new plan incorporates similar development that was part of the 2015 plan but was really kickstarted in the last five years, such as the building up of Uptown and the focus on the river greenway. The next step for downtown development is the railroad location site. It will be mentioned in the 2025 plan, Powers said, but will also have its own master planning process.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS PROGRAM
Visioning is important, but maintaining a solid infrastructure is also essential.
"How do we keep ahead of growth in the city? Road expansion is key," Mayor Mike Huether said when presenting his recommended Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the City Council.
The City of Sioux Falls has proposed $491.8 million for the 2015-19 CIP. The CIP will be voted on by the City Council in September. The five-year plan includes infrastructure and quality of life improvements. In 2015, $93.1 million in projects are planned.
The proposed CIP also includes quality of life projects, like the indoor aquatics center at Spellerberg Park, as well as continued development of neighborhood parks and upgrades to aging parks.
Maintaining an excellent quality of life is important for Sioux Falls residents, but also has an impact on economic development.
"Quality of life means nothing – until it means everything," said Sioux Falls Development Foundation President Slater Barr.
With the continued favorable economic indicators and growth that Sioux Falls has experienced, the city is now on the radar for site selectors across the country. The site selectors crunch numbers for their clients to help them decide where they may relocate or expand a business. But when it comes down to making the choice on a community, Barr said that´s when a community´s commitment to a high quality of life can have an impact. A business owner chooses a community based on where he or she actually wants to live in addition to having an advantage in doing business.
When Barr meets with business prospects or site selectors, he often talks about Sioux Falls´ investment in the community through the number of parks and green spaces, cultural and recreational activities available.
"We´re over-amenitized for our size," he said. Ensuring that quality of life remains high and is one of the reasons Barr signed on to chair the Economic/Community Development and Cultural Tourism Task Force as part of the Sioux Falls Cultural Plan.
FORWARD SIOUX FALLS
Forward Sioux Falls leaders are also taking advantage of the planning that has taken place as they look ahead to the seventh Forward Sioux Falls program. The planning is in the very early stages, but the work that´s already been done will help leaders craft a blueprint for the next campaign.
"I believe that one of the primary reasons that Forward Sioux Falls has achieved success is that leaders in the Chamber and Development Foundation do their research evaluating the success or results and return on investment of the programs when a new program initiative is being planned," said Nolte with the Chamber.
At a recent Forward Sioux Falls Investor Council Breakfast, it was announced that Joint Venture Management Council Chair Mark Shlanta, SDN Communications, and Dave Rozenboom, First PREMIER Bank, will be co-chairing the seventh campaign, which will run from 2016-2021.
Along with the quality of life and economic development areas in which Forward Sioux Falls investors have consistently supported, workforce development is likely to remain a relevant topic. In early September, Gov. Dennis Daugaard traveled across the state as a follow-up to the statewide workforce summits held earlier in the summer. Held in six regional areas, the Governor shared findings and results specific to each area based upon the input given by participants.
Community leaders will likely be paying attention to this report and the suggestions for the Sioux Falls area as workforce development continues to be a challenge touched on by many planning groups.
"Thankfully, we have a business community that values private/public partnerships and recognizes the power of arts, culture and heritage to attract skilled workers, tourists and entrepreneurs," Baker said.