Leading a premier city
Dana Dykhouse takes over volunteer leadership of the Chamber
By Amy Smolik
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
Look around Dana Dykhouse´s office and it´s easy to see his passions: his family and his community.
Photos of his wife, children and grandsons are intermixed with blue and gold from his alma mater, South Dakota State University, and mementos from service to various organizations across the community and state.
Dykhouse, CEO of First PREMIER Bank in Sioux Falls, is the new Chair of the Board of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, which started its 2014-15 year Oct. 1.
"I´m unusual in that I haven´t served as an Ambassador or Diplomat," Dykhouse said, referring to the Chamber´s volunteer sales and retention committees. His first official role with the Chamber was on the Board of Directors, though he has been actively involved by attending mixers, ribbon cuttings, Sioux Empire Farm Shows and other Chamber events over the years.
"They´re all important – whether it´s agriculture or advocacy. We are still in the people business. The No. 1 opportunity the Chamber gives is the process to become acquainted with other business leaders in the community," he said.
Dykhouse has also held several leadership roles with Forward Sioux Falls, the successful joint venture economic development partnership between the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Dykhouse first got involved in Forward Sioux Falls because mentors in the banking industry encouraged him to be involved by raising funds during a campaign.
"I´ve been fortunate and blessed to have had leadership opportunities," he said. "Every role I´ve had in the community is because I started by being a participant in the process. I was encouraged to be involved, which leads to more involvement and more leadership."
Young people are interested and willing to give their time, Dykhouse said, crediting the explosive growth of the Chamber´s Young Professionals Network as an example. In just over five years, the YPN has grown to nearly 1,000 members.
"They are symbolic of what Sioux Falls is about. We need to keep the focus on bringing young people in to leadership roles," he said.
Dykhouse has been with First PREMIER Bank since 1995. Prior to that, he was with Western Bank and also worked at Farm Credit Services in Lincoln, Neb., after college. He earned a scholarship to SDSU and was a member of the Jackrabbit football team. He earned a bachelor´s degree in ag business, owing to his childhood spent growing up on a farm near Rock Rapids, Iowa. Dykhouse intended to be a veterinarian, but fell into banking because he needed a job after graduating.
Moving to Sioux Falls to be closer to family and friends was a no-brainer for Dykhouse and his wife, LaDawn, especially after they started their own family. It helped that there were job opportunities for them in Sioux Falls and that the quality of life was – and is, Dykhouse said – outstanding.
Ensuring Sioux Falls continues to provide those opportunities and continues to enhance the quality of life of the area is just one of the reasons he remains committed to being involved in various organizations that work to make the region even better.
"I have a sense of responsibility to be a giver, not a taker," he said. He cites his gratitude for the scholarship he received to attend SDSU as well as opportunities to serve across the community as motivation to make a difference.
The Sioux Falls area is not the only beneficiary of Dykhouse´s time and talents – in the fall of 2016, the first football game will be played at the Dana J. Dykhouse stadium in Brookings. The $65 million 19,300-seat venue will be built on the site of the current Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
"I feel a responsibility to pay back what I received and I have dedicated part of my life to doing that," he said. "SDSU has always competed and been successful. But people from South Dakota are so modest in thinking they need to go somewhere else when we have facilities right here that are world-class."
SDSU was the first South Dakota post-secondary school to transition to Division I athletics. Dykhouse helped serve on the transition team. In moving SDSU to DI athletics, he said his goal had nothing to do with athletics – "It was to motivate and raise awareness and about the school and help create pride for alumni, students and the entire state. We were always top-tier and we never recognized it."
Dykhouse´s employer, First PREMIER Bank, also gives to organizations and programs across the state that encourage people to take advantage of opportunities available here in South Dakota. Perhaps the most well-known beneficiary locally is the new events center in Sioux Falls, the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
"It is a new opportunity for entertainment in Sioux Falls. It gives us a sense of pride, boosts us up a step. We can compete. It is a facility we all can enjoy," Dykhouse said. "But that´s a once in a generation homerun. We need to continue to focus on the singles and the doubles every year. Our parks, our infrastructure, our roads – those smaller projects also have a huge impact on our quality of life."
Dykhouse will share brief comments about the Chamber at the 108th Annual Meeting, which will be held Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center and Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Each Chamber Annual Meeting is an opportunity to celebrate the business community and its leaders for moving the Sioux Falls area forward. This year´s event will be different because attendees will also be celebrating the recently-opened Denny Sanford PREMIER Center and the evening will be capped off with a performance from the band Chicago. Tickets are still available at a cost of $80 per person, with sales closing Oct. 10. See more details about the event on page 31 of this issue of Chamber News.
Some of Dykhouse´s comments at the Annual Meeting will likely recognize the leaders and the industries who have helped build the community. As he lays out the Chamber´s plan of action for the next 12 months, he is mindful of two words: maintaining momentum. That mindset will serve the organization well in tackling community issues and laying groundwork for the next Forward Sioux Falls campaign, which will kick off in late 2015.
"Our No. 1 resource is our people. We don´t have mineral wealth, we don´t have a seaport, we don´t have those geographical advantages. But we do have a tremendous amount of human capital and our people are innovative and hard-working," he said. "That´s what sets Sioux Falls apart. Human capital is how we will continue to succeed."
Forward Sioux Falls is more than halfway through its 2011-2016 program, with community leaders – including Dykhouse – already discussing challenges that can be addressed in the seventh program, which will run from 2016-2021.
"Forward Sioux Falls is the funding mechanism for plans and dreams," Dykhouse said.
While people may be one of Sioux Falls´ greatest assets, Dykhouse also believes that one of the community´s greatest challenges is also people – namely finding enough of them to fill available jobs. Workforce needs are across the spectrum: skilled and unskilled trades and jobs requiring education at all levels.
"The challenge is recruiting that workforce to our community. People still don´t know all the good things happening here. There are a number of people who are still surprised by the vitality here. We are sometimes very modest about how we talk about our community and we need to put our best foot forward," he said.
In the current Forward Sioux Falls program, National Marketing & Public Relations was seen as a major component in making concerted efforts to better educate the rest of the country about the advantages of living and doing business here. The efforts have paid off, with Sioux Falls being featured in publications like The Atlantic and National Journal, as well as stories on CNN and Bloomberg, to name a few. The community continues to get top rankings for its business climate and quality of life as well.
"People are still surprised about Sioux Falls. We need to make sure that Sioux Falls is not a surprise any longer," Dykhouse said.
The role of the Chamber of Commerce is to ensure the quality of life and business climate remains high and to keep discussions to meet community challenges on-going and to make sure the right people are gathered at the table. More than anything, Chamber membership provides opportunities to make a difference, Dykhouse said.
"The Chamber gives a lot of opportunities: you can meet members; you can be involved and lobby and discuss issues that are important to the business community; you can invest in Forward Sioux Falls and help create the vision of what our community can be," he said. "Those who take advantage of those opportunities, I´ve never talked to anyone who regrets that time."