Hartford, Chester, and Madison took another step closer to absorption into the Sioux Falls metroplex last week with the announcement of the state’s latest corporate welfare project, the Foundation Park “megasite” northwest of Sioux Falls in the armpit of Interstates 29 and 90.
The state is tying up $11.5 million dollars in the project: a $3-million Future Fund grant and an $8.5-million REDI Fund loan, the biggest such loan by the state ever. The state is thus covering more than half of the $19 million the Sioux Falls Development Foundation (also significantly funded by taxpayers) is spending to acquire the 822 acres for the site.
Farm owner Jerry Sechser told KSFY last week that he thinks the development is great. Of course he does: the Sioux Falls Development Foundation bought 120 acres from him on May 15 for $2,578,000. That’s $21,483 per acre, more than twice the highest land value SDSU Extension found for Minnehaha County crop land in its May 2015 survey. Sechser may not feel quite as great when he reviews the other seven Foundation Park land purchases listed on the Sioux Falls City Council agenda for today: SFDF is buying these eight parcels at an average of $23,116 an acre. Landowners Persing and Wintersteen are getting over $25,000 per acre.
The Sioux Falls City Council will begin discussion of annexing the land at today’s meeting. Annexation means the city will take on responsibility for extending infrastructure to the site.
It’s awfully nice of us to use government money to help private business create 8,000 jobs. It’s awfully nice of us to take care of all the land acquisition to spare businesses the hassle of dealing with local landowners. But it continues to surprise me that Governor Daugaard gives handouts like these to able-bodied capitalists who apparently recognize the value of land at a transportation hub (two Interstate highways and a BNSF rail line, all built with government assistance) and ought to be able to buy this land and develop their projects by their able-bodied selves.