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New GOED/Lawrence & Schiller Ads: Move to South Dakota, Get a Harley, Don’t Die on Mars

Is the Governor’s Office of Economic Development finally getting a grip on reality? GOED hired Lawrence & Schiller to conduct focus groups in Peoria, Des Moines, Davenport, Minneapolis, and Rochester to gauge perceptions of South Dakota. GOED chief Pat Costello presented the results to South Dakota economic development officials last week and acknowledged that our low-tax/no-tax messaging doesn’t seem to get traction beyond our borders:

“One of our mantras for business is no state income tax,” Costello said. “That didn’t resonate with individuals. Individuals viewed that as maybe the state doesn’t have good education or fire protection or crime might be high or the park system not adequate. That was almost a quality of life deterrent” [Jodi Schwan, “You Can Die on Mars. Or You Can Live in South Dakota,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.04.19].

The focus groups generally viewed South Dakota as a nice place to visit (Mount Rushmore, Black Hills, Sturgis, Wall Drug, and Corn Palace were among the top ten terms in the focus group perceptions word cloud for South Dakota) but not to stay and work and live:

“They knew lots of travel things, and that’s a testament to our state,” [Lawrence & Schiller director of consumer insights Tracy] Saathoff said. “But at the same time when you think about the prospect of relocating where you’re thinking about a job, there’s not a lot to draw from because you’re limited in your perception.”

“Limited” is an understatement. Consider this feedback from someone in Des Moines when asked about working in South Dakota:

“South Dakota is mainly cattle, sheep, horses, livestock … living off the ranch, taking care of the ranch. It’s not as industrial, not as technical.”

Another from Des Moines:

“If you’re not in that tourism industry, I don’t think the opportunities are there.”

They also thought there weren’t as many opportunities to change employers, and that there were limited opportunities for movement within the company, small family-owned businesses, suburban office parks and lower salaries [Schwan, 2015.04.19].

So how do Saathoff and her team combat these negative perceptions? Shoot ads with diverse South Dakotans talking about their interesting jobs and recreational activities? Yes! Kyle from Harrisburg moved to South Dakota and got a new Harley:

But focusing on meaningful personal narratives is so boring, so old school. Kyle doesn’t move fast enough. We need some peppy graphics, something that will get us on Jon Stewart again. So let’s blow sirens and talk about how life really sucks on Mars:

Mars. The air, not breathable. the surface, cold and barren, but thousands are lining up for a chance to go and never come back.

South Dakota. Progressive. Productive. And abundant in oxygen. Why die on Mars, when you can live in South Dakota?

South Dakota: You Can Live Here [Lawrence & Schiller, ad text, transcribed from video posted by GOED, 2015.04.17].

What dope are they smoking at Lawrence & Schiller? Have they decided that marketing South Dakota is so nearly impossible that every ad campaign for the state must use stunt innuendo, unreliable statistics, and Lake Woebegon irony dressed up in sci-fi graphics? The entire ad translates to “South Dakota: It could be worse.”

The meager scraps of text Lawrence & Schiller devotes to describing South Dakota in this ad dismally fail to tell our story:

  1. Progressive: really? We fight same-sex marriage in court, we have one of the most regressive tax systems in the U.S., we are governed by a conservative Republican supermajority, we have fewer self-proclaimed liberals than all but four other states, and you call us progressive?! Progressive toward what, more giant stinky feedlots? Lawrence and Schiller just floats this empty word without any connection to the images, the rest of the text, or even the main critiques they are hearing in the focus groups.
  2. Productive: This term is more accurate: our 2010 per capita GDP in the top 20 among the states, although Wyoming, North Dakota, and Minnesota still beat us. In 2013, our GDP per capita ranked ninth, thanks mostly to big gains in agriculture. Those images flashing behind the words also show a lot of goofing off: fishing, hiking, floating around in hot air balloons, which apparently emphasize Costello’s message that “You can have a great job and go fishing and biking and hiking. The opportunities are abundant [Schwan, 2015.04.19].”
  3. Abundant in Oxygen: Hee hee, oh so clever. Also not distinguishing South Dakota from any state with which we are competing.
  4. You Can Live Here: Equally non-distinguishing. You can live anywhere in the United States.

The Kyle ad is a tolerable, straightforward, and effective ad, one man’s narrative about finding success in South Dakota. The Mars ad is an example of the complete separation of message and tactics in advertising. The Mars ad isn’t really about South Dakota. The ad does not tell anyone anything about our state. The ad is simply a grab for Google juice, a kazoo blown really loud by a man running down the street in his underpants with Grumpy Cat on his head.

GOED pretty much confirms the noisemaker nature of the Mars ad:

The young people being targeted by the campaign “are saturated with media,” said Mary Lehecka Nelson, director of marketing for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “Something needed to hook them, and we know that demographic spends a lot of time talking about trending topics.”

The idea is for South Dakota to become part of the conversation, instead of trying to direct it with more in-your-face messaging.

“We think the Mars thing is right now,” Costello said. “Once this runs its course, we’ll hitch our message to the next wagon” [Schwan, 2015.04.19].

Meaning doesn’t matter. Just make a funnier noise than everyone else. When people stop laughing, make another noise, and another…

…and I suppose some wise guy will tell me it worked, because here I am blogging about the Mars ad. Grrr.

Schwan tells us the state will spend $3 million over three years on this campaign from the Future Fund—you know, the slush fund Governor Daugaard can spend without any Legislative oversight. If the two ads above are any indication, about half of that money will be wasted.


  1. Bill Goehring 2015-04-19

    I am hereby designating this as a new category of economic development with my neologism “Kamikazi Advertising.”

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-19

    Brilliant, Bill! The scary thing about the metaphor is that the battleship the advertiser is crashing its suicide planes into is people’s minds and attention spans.

  3. owen 2015-04-19

    Isn’t there a law about truth in advertising? Progressive? South Dakota?
    Hard to believe he didn’t take a pay cut when he moved from Texas to Harrisburg and isn’t there more to this state then Sioux Falls?

    The Mars ad was so ridiculous I can’t even comment on it

  4. mike from iowa 2015-04-19

    Harley-Davidson says they don’t ship their bikes to federal territories that aren’t established as rill states. That means a plainsman would have to fork a bronc to iowa or Minnesota to lasso one.

  5. mike from iowa 2015-04-19

    Think about it-Mars and South Dakota are predominantly red and both are heavily populated by aliens. Mars gets NASA-Dakota gets CAFOs.

  6. Lynn 2015-04-19

    Are things getting that bad where South Dakota can’t compete for labor against other states here in the US nor violent places like ISIS held territories that we are now going after the first settlers of a planet that lost it’s atmosphere is basically dead? That is desperation!

  7. MJL 2015-04-19

    The best line has to be that Pat Costello admitted that not having an income tax makes the state look backwards and unable to offer a solid quality of life.

  8. mike from iowa 2015-04-19

    Even a blind hog stumbles upon a kernel of truth now and then. Old folk saying.

  9. Jenny 2015-04-19

    SD Progressive? You have got to be kidding, it is so anti-gay and anti-living wage. I’ve said it on here and I’ll say it again, I’ve lived in MN for 14 years now, and no Minnesotan I’ve ever talked to has any desire to move to SD. They love the Black Hills scenery and Sturgis for a weekend getaway but that’s it.
    Being an anti-gay and anti-living wage state just settles the deal for people deciding not to move to SD.

  10. Kurt Evans 2015-04-19

    We need an ad that points out the kids lining up to go fight with ISIS in Iraq.

    “South Dakota: Because watching our Governor’s Office of Economic Development waste money and make us look stupid isn’t as bad as being targeted by a drone.”

  11. Lynn 2015-04-19


    Unfortunately your right about that! 15 years in the Twin Cities and when I told them I was from South Dakota they felt sorry for me. I wasn’t looking for sympathy. They look at it as a backwater state and a market for youth, shoppers and sporting events.

  12. bearcreekbat 2015-04-19

    Maybe we can just sell SD to the 1% richest folks. Business Insider lists SD at the 3rd best state overall in the nation for the obscenely rich, and tied for number 1 in the nation for making sure extremely rich folks do not pay a fair share of the tax burden.

    “South Dakota’s richest 1 percent, with an average income of $1.1 million, pay 2.1 percent of their income in taxes, while the lowest-earning 20 percent, with average incomes of $11,200, pay five times as much.

    Individual income taxes: The Tax Foundation ranked South Dakota No. 1 best state for income taxes (tied with Florida, Alaska, Washington, and Nevada).”

  13. Lynn 2015-04-19


    I think your on to something! Two market strategies one focused on the 1% showing golf courses, hunting at private game reserves, downtown Sioux Falls with the sculpture walk and touting a tax haven, active and lucrative pay to play political scene and various other businesses set up to pamper and service them.

    The second strategy is to recruit plantation workers and immigration. Those immigrants will be treated like temp workers with employers holding up that carrot of a permanent job with benefits, residency, citizenship and upward mobility when really there was never any intention of doing so. It may take a while for them to figure it out but by that time a new fresh batch of unknowing immigrant workers will be ready to take their place. Right to work state flexibility at it’s best!

  14. bearcreekbat 2015-04-19

    Lynn,the truth about policies that our current leadership might support hurts -ouch!

  15. Lynn 2015-04-19

    Hey Everyone,

    With these once again GOED baloney claims of bringing new people to South Dakota I though I’d use this opportunity to say good bye and best wishes! Life is too short and there are a few things I’d like to do at a certain level while I’m still physically able to do and it will be hard to do while living here in SD.

    I’ve been in a holding pattern for a few years with making big purchases to see what happens here in the state and it’s just time for me to move to one of those repressive socialistic blue states where their economic engines have been misfiring and sputtering along.

    Seriously though I feel my personal opportunities will be better along with income potential even factoring in higher more progressive taxation which were never an issue in the past.

    I’ve enjoyed my time here and had some great dialog.

    Thank you!

    ps. Apologies for errors in punctuation! Hopefully those wonderful nuns who taught me will forgive me also :)

  16. bearcreekbat 2015-04-19

    Godspeed Lynn! And don’t forget, you can still talk to us on Cory’s blog wherever you decide to live. Best of luck to you!

  17. mike from iowa 2015-04-19

    Lynn,I’ve never lived in South Dakota(or anywhere else)which is why I’m stuck in iowa. Where ever you go,you know you can always check in here. So don’t make Cory mad enough to come looking for you or you’ll be sorry,Missy. Good luck to you and yours. :)

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-19

    Lynn’s post is the most depressing thing I’ve read all day. Placing it alongside GOED/L&S’s effort to bring people to South Dakota with absurdist kamikaze meme-buzz makes the ad look all the more superficial and woefully detached from the reality of living, working, and putting up with baloney in South Dakota.

  19. Porter Lansing 2015-04-19

    @Lynn … Colorado ~ Land of Infinite Variety #grins As for SoDak, getting people to move into the state should be secondary to getting the youth to stay. That means loosening the conservative stranglehold on the government. Not something progressives have much say in. The conservatives would rather be a winner sitting on a turd than do something that appeals to the mainstream thinking of youth needing opportunities. As long as the state is viewed as a hideout for the timid and those averse to new things it’s progress is limited.

  20. Dave 2015-04-19

    Wasn’t L&S the group of geniuses that told the world that you shouldn’t jerk and drive while in South Dakota? They’ve already shot us collectively in one foot; I guess since we’re still able to hobble around, they thought they needed to take aim at our other foot.

  21. grudznick 2015-04-19

    Don’t jerk on Mars, people.

  22. Sam@ 2015-04-19

    I think we need a new agency . These ads are a waste of tax payer money. I wonder how much Lawarence and Schiller have donated to the Republican Party.

  23. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-19

    Hahahahahahahaha! The Mars ad is funny. I don’t know if it will encourage people to move to SD, but it made me laugh.

    It’s good to see that at least a few people in SD government are beginning to understand that people around the country really do understand how SD’s tax system works and how it kills entrepreneurship and economic growth.

    Today’s Strib had two articles about in- and out-migration in MN. It also revealed that MN has more Fortune 500 companies than Detroit and Silicon Valley. People from the coasts wonder why anyone moves to the Frozen North, and even more, why they stay! SD could learn things from both articles about what to do and what not to do. Interestingly enough, neither article mentions Mars.

    Youth outmigration:

    Management inmigration:

  24. owen 2015-04-19

    Sam the fact the “Lawrence” of Lawarence and Schiller was the head of the South Dakota Republican party says it all.

  25. Joe 2015-04-19

    The 1st ad with the guy has a good outline, but could be so much better, it has some good comments, I left the hectic life, I got a solid job here, I met my wife, everybody knows my name, etc. That sells. But I would have cleaned it up quite a bit.

    The 2nd ad on Mars is just stupid to say the least.

  26. scott 2015-04-19

    they forgot to add that we are going to have a big pawn shop. That should get plenty of corporations to move here.

  27. Donald Pay 2015-04-19

    I agree with Deb. I think the Mars ad would be good if SD was the current hot new place for the younger set. That just isn’t the case right now. It could be, but a lot of things have to change in the state for that to happen, and the current regime won’t do what’s necessary. It’s a bit of wishful thinking on the part of L&S. The tax climate in SD just isn’t going to attract startups by 20-30 year olds.

  28. Wayne Pauli 2015-04-19

    For being such a conservative, DD sure has wasted a bunch of money in his tenure trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
    We have a difficult time in the technology discipline that I am in filling our faculty openings. there are common threads of reasons. they are in no particular order: Weather, Winter, salary, Winter, culture, Winter, location of the campus and condition of the physical plant in which we work, and did I mention our winters?
    our current Academic Affairs VP always defends lower pay with no taxes…it never works…She defends winter by telling candidates that they will get used to it…What The Heck, I have lived 50 of my 60 years in SD, and I have never gotten used to how cruel and unforgiving winter is.
    about 15 years ago we had the choice of Madison, SD (where I was), or Montevideo, MN (where my wife was). The cost of living difference between the two was very small. what we saved in state income tax has been eaten up by higher real estate taxes, higher utility rates, and higher sales tax. We chose SD so that we would be closer to the older generation. If no connection, then no reason to live in the 605.

  29. grudznick 2015-04-19

    Montevideo is basically Madison with better food.

  30. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-19

    Wayne, check out the 2nd of the two links in my comment above. It’s about why people come to MN in spite of the weather, and they stay.

  31. Rorschach 2015-04-20

    No matter what SD government does, Gas Monkey … er … Lawrence & Schiller gets paid.

    At least the focus groups developed some real information about our challenges recruiting non-South Dakotans. Hard to believe they didn’t bury the finding that people view SD’s “low tax uber alles” mantra as a negative thing. I question what level of advertising it will take to convince people that they should move to Sioux Falls rather than to Minneapolis.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    Wayne, your academic VP is reaching, just like GOED and L&S. You could tell prospective astronauts that they’ll get used to the freezing cold, thin air, and low gravity of Mars, too, but that line won’t make the sale.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    I wonder: to what extent is this state marketing business a complete waste of time? How many people are sitting around vaguely thinking, “I should move to some other state… which one?” and are thus susceptible to a general pitch from a state, a pitch not tied to any specific job offer? How many additional applicants are you going to get, Wayne, for faculty thanks to an ad for South Dakota that your applicants don’t even see in regular television rotation (because, really, how much airtime are we going to buy on WCCO?) but only hear about on The Daily Show? Are manufactured images like these ads ever going to shift the perceptions that people form of a state based on experience, visits here, and what they hear from family and friends?

  34. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    R, the fact that they are talking about the failure of the “low-tax/no-tax” message is encouraging. It won’t change the political debate overnight, but we should make sure we keep reminding them of the findings of their own research.

  35. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    Tacky as it may be, Chuck Brennan’s regional advertising for his ginormous pawn shop may bring more people to South Dakota than the Mars ad and all the rest of GOED’s marketing.

  36. mike from iowa 2015-04-20

    You’re in the 21st century,for heaven’s sake. Are wingnuts ever gonna get caught up?

  37. Nick Nemec 2015-04-20

    And that big pawnshop will be just another tourist attraction no different than the Corn Palace or Mount Rushmore. It has good access off I-90 on Russell Street, someone passing through anyway might be tempted to stop and check it out for an hour or so on the trip out west and easily skip the rest of Sioux Falls. While I don’t expect it to attract permanent residents, great pawnshops are more attractive than oxygen free environments.

  38. barry freed 2015-04-20

    We even have people so ignorant, they use Pot as a reference about intelligence.

  39. Nick Nemec 2015-04-20

    Why did people move to the frontier? I’ll bet economic opportunity trumped all other reasons. And even today the reasons people move across the country, especially to the frontier are usually economic. And make no mistake about it, all of South Dakota including Sioux Falls is the frontier.

    When businesses attempting to attract employees relearn the economic reality taught in ECON 101, that shortages are corrected by price hikes, maybe they will increase wages and enjoy the increased economic activity brought about by the additional work done by their new, well paid, happy workers.

    When South Dakota learns it’s easier to keep educated local kids local by paying them enough, than it is to attract workers from out of state by lying to them, South Dakota’s employment problems will be solved. I do not hold out hope that the problem of South Dakota worker shortages will be solved anytime soon, our leaders are unwilling to speak truth to power.

  40. mike from iowa 2015-04-20

    Much higher wages will certainly help,but nothing beats the allure of the big cities for some people.

  41. Nick Nemec 2015-04-20

    mike from Iowa, that’s why not only do wages in SD have to equal those in other places, they might have to exceed them to attract people to SD. The “by golly, you kin go huntin’ and fishin’ ” line the state pushes when trying to attract workers might actually be turning many off, and reinforces the stereotype that South Dakota is a redneck paradise.

    South Dakota state government is wandering in the dark on the issue of worker shortage and fails to look up and take direction from the North Star of higher wages.

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    Mike, yes, we are in the 21st Century—we should be colonizing and terraforming Mars by now. That’s why you can find thousands of people to sign up for a one-way trip to Mars but not for a stick-built house and a Harley in the sub-suburbs of Sioux Falls.

    Nick, maybe South Dakota state government is working its way toward admitting the truth about wages. As Deb says, a few people in South Dakota government are beginning to understand. We have the Regents telling us on their new wage dashboard that strong, competitive wages are key to economic development and increased tax revenues. We have Costello above at least acknowledging that the low-tax/no-tax marketing line doesn’t resonate. One by one, the state is kicking the legs out from under its own old arguments and excuses. They can still run away to fantasies about viral videos drawing attention that magically translates into people moving here, but eventually, they’ll run out of excuses and have to face facts.

    Of course, we could just hasten the process by running Nick Nemec for Governor in 2018, back him with 105 gung-ho Democratic Legislative candidates, and give South Dakotans a government that understands, tells, and builds policy around the truth (and, as a bonus, spends 90% less on silly ad campaigns).

  43. Cranky Old Dude 2015-04-20

    Conservative Republicans? How about Wretched RINO Progressives instead? A surprising number are former Democrats who despaired of ever getting elected and so became “Republicans”. Other than that, you have nailed several very good points here.

    I really don’t care if people move here or not; I kind of like the low population (fewer people=fewer idiots) numbers. This attribute has a down side, too. It doesn’t matter how you pare the budget and what you cut, it is going to take a certain amount of money to operate a state government, even a minimal one. The fewer people, the narrower your tax base is.

  44. Nick Nemec 2015-04-20

    Cory, I am not a candidate for office but, after hearing State Senator Billie Sutton speak at McGovern Day Saturday night, he’s at the top of my list. I hope he decides to run, a true Democrat.

  45. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    If Sutton’s our man, great. Then we just have 105 real Democrats to recruit for Legislature. Maybe we can convince them by saying, “Run for Legislature! It won’t kill you as quickly as Mars!”

  46. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    Cranky, that’s an interesting perspective on getting people to move here. I don’t mind less dense population, either (Sioux Falls becomes a bigger pain to drive around the more people they get), but the problem is, we have to convince people to move here just to fill the empty jobs of people who leave.

  47. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    My friend and Brookings City Commissioner-Elect Scott Meyer says on Facebook, “People don’t move for jobs. Jobs move for people. We won’t attract people with work, but rather with openness and amenities (as the tourism report also mentions).” Spot on!

  48. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-20

    I think SD needs to develop a new identity starting from the ground up. It will take time, but SD has plenty of that. I think the best way to begin is by building a smart, educated workforce. Every desirable business needs that.

    Even the people in manufacturing need to be good thinkers, rather than rote automatons who who put Nut A on Bolt B. Real robots do that now. The machinist needs to program the plasma cutter correctly and adjust for various materials on the fly. She needs to be able to solve problems, deal successfully with new alloys, etc.

    I think very few things draw businesses like a sharp and flexible workforce. And very few things draw or keep the workforce like being treated with respect and value in an open political and social environment.

  49. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-20

    I’m trying to think of a “redneck” state or area which is successful economically. Nothing is coming to mind immediately, but I’m sure other DFPers have thoughts.

    I had a strong reaction to Cranky’s comment about liking SD as is. I love the broad spaces too, and miss them since I’m living in MN. However, it’s an awfully self-centered sentiment. Thousands of people are leaving SD, schools are closing, small towns losing customers, businesses going broke, and so on based on that point of view.

    Cranky recognized that these losses will continue and accelerate if nothing changes. I want him and those in agreement to recognize that their beliefs and votes play a crucial role in sending even more people out, bringing an end to their local school and the cafe in town where they’ve visited with friends and family every Wednesday for several decades. Their children and grandchildren won’t be staying and maintaining the family farm/business based on your decisions in the voting booth.

    It’s not that it’s all forces completely beyond your control that are destroying your way of life. There are some things you can do. Hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans need to grab the political power into their hands and use it.

  50. tara volesky 2015-04-20

    How about a 40% tariff on all incoming goods. That’s one way to tax the rich for shipping over 60 thousand US companies overseas and opening up offshore bank accounts. If our politicians would quit molly coddling to the 1% we could bring back the middle class.

  51. mike from iowa 2015-04-20

    Or putting out a call on Facebook for a few party guests and having 400 new friends show up in Shakopee,Minn for a 10 year old’s birthday bash. Good on you,Minnesotans.

    Deb is correct and might I add if more liberal women were in charge,South Dakota would already be light years ahead of where it is now.Women can do it all,just get out of the way and let them show you.

  52. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    Deb on Cranky: true, the idea of keeping South Dakota just the way it is does not seem to point toward adapting to our future needs.

    Deb, your first article is fascinating: I regularly hold up Minnesota as a superior model of economic development and government, yet Minnesota is seeing alarming youth out-migration. But then it’s interesting to read that a third of those leavers go to Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Iowa; South Dakota doesn’t get mentioned. How can North Dakota draw Minnesota youth, and how can South Dakota not be capitalizing on that same draw? Is it just the oil fields? And Iowa—come on! What’s Iowa got that South Dakota doesn’t for young people?

    But then there’s that geographer who says outmigration isn’t a sign that we’re doing something wrong, but just a sign that the leavers are looking for something. Interesting….

  53. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    And then that second article from Deb on why people stay in the Twin Cities:
    —arts, schools, outdoor recreation: people don’t hear about it, and the Twin Cities have one of the lowest in-migration rates of major metros. But once folks get there and realize what MSP has, they don’t leave: the Twin Cities have the lowest out-migration rate of 22 big metros.

    Of keen importance in this article: Professor Shaver seems to reject my friend Scott Meyer’s thesis that jobs follow people. Shaver says amenities may keep people, but jobs really do draw new people. Wow—which is it?

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-20

    Of course, none of the experts in the articles Deb share with us say that stupid advertisements draw people for economic development.

  55. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-20

    Thanks Mike and Cory.

    MN’s relationship with Fargo and ND is much closer and more cooperative than with SD. I think Janklow did more harm than anyone acknowledges when he stoked his ego fighting with Perpich. The way to gain friends is not by demeaning them, something the belligerent Janklow never figured out. But I digress.

    ND’s history of populism goes over well in MN, and there are many social, familial and economic relationships. Fargo’s funk makes a connection to Mpls that includes money flow between creative types in each city.

    I think SD has much to gain from a deeper, more cooperative connection to its wealthier, more successful neighbor to the east. It seems like the Republicans don’t do anything to grow that, but they must be able to see how ND benefits.

  56. grudznick 2015-04-20

    Heh. Perpich. There was a fellow who got used as a mop on the floor.

    How come on your blog here, Mr. H, we have all these out-of-staters like Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Montana, Oregon and Nebraska that come here to hate on South Dakota but it seems none of them are Nort Dahkootan. Uff Da, could it be that they’re more than “Minnesota Nice?”

  57. Daniel Buresh 2015-04-21

    When did hunting and fishing become redneck? We should promote what is different about us, and being rural and having the outdoor opportunities is not a bad thing. Rural areas are dieing in every state in the midwest. People are flocking to urban areas. The sky isn’t falling. I’ve yet to meet anyone who moved somewhere because of the friendly gay status unless they were gay. Progressives like to point out so many small factors without realizing the biggies. Kids just want to get away, regardless of the minor characteristics of each. period.

  58. Daniel Buresh 2015-04-21

    Grudz, I’m North Dakotan and I came here for the education and high paying jobs. I’ve done the math and I’d go backwards in MN, NE, or CO. I say good riddance kids.

  59. I think Nick Nemec is onto something: What South Dakota has going for it is that it still has elements of the frontier.

    When I was lobbying to move here eight years ago, I told my husband, “Yes, if you take what’s handed to you in South Dakota (i.e., what’s advertised in job listings), there’s not much appeal. But South Dakota is a place where you can make your own opportunity.” There is room to build something, and you’re not competing with hundreds of others doing the same thing. Market share is smaller also, of course, but that’s not as big a problem as it used to be if people can take advantage of technology.

    It would be harder to sell, but I think even the weather extremes could fit in that frontier appeal for the right person. One of the guys who started college the same year I did in Moorhead, Minn., came from California. Why did he move to Fargo-Moorhead (where winter is even longer and more brutal than in South Dakota)? Because he thought it would be an adventure. In another way, our lifestyle here is closer to the natural world. People tired of the arbitrary busyness of city life might find that appealing.

  60. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-21

    I think there are pluses to your arguments Heidi.

    Definitely, but not entirely positive. Inner city populations are on the rise because people are finding they like walking out the door of their building to shop, watch a play or a game, socialize, etc. Cities are growing faster than suburbs across the country.

    A recent university study found that people may feel a bit trepidatious about MN weather when they move here, but Minnesotans attitude toward winter convinces them to stay. Here is the link -

    MN has invested a lot of time, money and attention to winter activities. SD can do the same on a smaller scale. Don’t run from the weather. Embrace it, celebrate it! Create events, fund them, promote them.

    One of my favorites is St. Paul’s Winter Carnival in January. There are ice sculpting and snow sculpting competitions, Klondike Kate contests (A big, bawdy, talented woman), parades that are a winter version of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras parades, pond hockey tournaments, ice fishing tournaments, etc.

    Aberdeen or Huron would be great sites to throw a massive, statewide winter party. Throw in a few music concerts, maybe sewing/knitting contests for winter clothes. There are plenty of opportunities to build a Winter Rally!

  61. bearcreekbat 2015-04-21

    Deb, your comments on Minnesota winter weather reminded me of the old story about two Minnesotans who were killed in a snowmobile accident and found themselves in Hades. When Satan went to check on them they said it was absolutely wonderful to be in such a warm climate. Satan decided to turn the place into an absolute deep freeze to inflict true pain on them but when he checked both men were jumping up and down and cheering to beat the band, yelling “Yay, the Vikings must have won the Superbowl!”

  62. Kurt Evans 2015-04-21

    Thanks for that one, BCB. Made me smile. :)

  63. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-22

    Frontier appeal, make your own opportunity—that’s what brought the homesteaders. That sounds like something we could keep trying to capitalize on, if we can assure the new pioneers that they are coming to communities where their new ideas will be welcomed and encouraged, where their new businesses will be viewed as win-win and not competition against the old money and existing chamber members… or at least that even their competition will be welcome, and that existing businesses will rise to meet the challenge of new competition.

    Make your own opportunity—Aberdeen is using that idea with its “Write Your Story.” I know the running critique here is that slogans and ad campaigns don’t get the job done alone… but when I first read that slogan (the weekend of my wife’s job interview here, in our Aberdeen welcome packet), the slogan resonated with me. I liked it personally because I’m a writer. I thought, “Aberdeen, you’re inviting me to come here and write my stories? Hee hee hee—be careful what you wish for.” Kidding aside, that slogan felt personally welcoming to me. I liked the slogan because it also made a nice connection between recruiting and a prominent tourist attraction, Storybook Land. Best of all, it neatly captures the message of opportunity for all prospective newcomers: “Come here, do your thing, make it happen.”

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-22

    Update: GOED has opened up the website for which the Mars ad is click bait:

    If all we’re doing is shouting to get people to click on the website, why don’t we just run ads with bikini ladies? Roll footage from the Miss Buffalo Chip contest, scroll the website across the bottom, end with one short voiceover: “South Dakota: Hot Enough For Ya?” Meaning doesn’t restrain GOED’s marketing; why should prudence or concern about objectification of women?

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