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Schwan Runs Interference for Mars Campaign; GOED Ignores Immigration

Jodi Schwan asks us to “get beyond Mars.”

Funny she should make that request, given that she was the one to spotlight the “Not as bad as Mars” message that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and ad agency Lawrence & Schiller decided was the best way to sell South Dakota. After helping GOED launch its naked scream for contentless, messageless attention, Schwan seems to make excuses for GOED and L&S’s silliness, daring us to do better:

So I asked Commissioner Pat Costello: If people think they can do a better job marketing this state, are you open to using those ideas?

“Absolutely,” he said. “I get emails regularly from people interested in helping with our missions in economic development.”

If you lead a business or an organization, consider taking a similar approach. See yourself as the center of a network instead of at the top of a ladder [Jodi Schwan, “Let’s Get Beyond Mars,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.04.25].

Sure, Jodi, I’m happy to help. But bloggers and Costello’s e-mailers and the rest of South Dakota aren’t a professional ad agency being paid three million dollars over three years from the Governor’s slush fund to come up with intelligent ad campaigns that tell South Dakota’s real story. I’m having a little trouble getting beyond the fact that we paid for this Mars foolishness.

But o.k. fine, if GOED told Schwan to run some press to tamp down the criticism of its ad tactics and spending, let’s get beyond Mars. Let’s talk about what GOED is missing in its workforce recruitment approach. GOED and Lawrence & Schiller rolled out the Mars campaign at the state’s annual economic development conference. GOED spent last year leading extensive discussions about workforce development. But at last week’s conference, GOED gave no sign that it has any plan related to one of the key aspects of increasing our workforce: immigration.

No, not immigration from Des Moines, Rochester, Peoria, and the other safe Midwestern places where Lawrence & Schiller focus-grouped people who look mostly like what GOED imagines South Dakota should look like to build its Mars campaign. Foreign immigration.

Immigrants from places like Burma, Somalia, and Latin America are providing such substantial proportions of the workforce for the dairies and value-added ag operations that owners are pressuring our Congressional delegation to loosen immigration rules. Aberdeen’s economic developers have decided that the primary target for filling Brown County’s workforce needs should be foreign immigrants.

Yet from what I’ve heard, neither GOED chief Costello nor anyone else addressing the crowd of officials and entrepreneurs at last week’s conference breathed a substantive word about immigration. GOED and L&S seem entirely focused on recruiting people who look like us from places that look like ours

Maybe recruiting and advertising in foreign markets isn’t as fun or attention-grabbing or profile-boosting for our state’s favored marketing contractor as cutesy Lady-Godiva-esque efforts to get their product on The Tonight Show (yes, mission accomplished, real feather in the cap). But for three million dollars, you’d think GOED and Lawrence & Schiller could get beyond their tunnel vision of South Dakota Whitopia and work on a serious campaign to reach more of the workers we need in foreign markets.


  1. Nick Nemec 2015-04-30 07:53

    If you really want to increase immigration into SD increase the pay for all those unfilled positions. The free market works, if you can’t purchase what you want, at the price you want to pay, you might end up having to pay more.

  2. larry kurtz 2015-04-30 08:23

    Before the election SDGOP wailed against immigration now they are groveling for immigrant workers: disconnect, dishonesty or dysphoria?

  3. rwb 2015-04-30 11:33

    Larry, I like your Triple D possibilities. Let me add a fourth D – dementia…

    Really, I think it’s more that they are lost in the Wilderness of No Ideas.

  4. MD 2015-04-30 11:57

    Or maybe you market to those new Americans that are in those markets: Peoria, Des Moines, Rochester. Many have shown they are willing to travel for jobs. For instance, LSS opened a regional satellite office in Aberdeen because so many Burmese moved there when they found there were jobs at the Turkey plant.

    Many New Americans want to move away from being forced to work at John Morrell or Dakota Poultry for the rest of their lives to make a decent living for their children. They are willing to work hard in positions that many others would not like, but would be an upgrade to them.
    You’re right Cory, but that labor force is in large part already within the borders of our country. (BBC Pop-up did a really good story on the Turkey plant in Huron)

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-30 12:08

    Paychecks—Nick, why do we keep forgetting about that obvious solution? :-)

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-30 12:12

    Ah, but rwb, that was the point! We made The Tonight Show! L&S are flippin’ genii! Hire ’em again!

    And for our next trick, we will get on Fallon, Letterman, and Kimmel by having Jodi Schwan and Linda Daugaard ride horses naked through the streets of Sioux Falls. It’ll get attention, so it must be good advertising.

  7. Nick Nemec 2015-04-30 14:21

    Cory, we keep forgetting the obvious solution, paychecks, because our leaders have touted SD as low wage state for so long they can’t see the obvious.

  8. Bill Dithmer 2015-04-30 15:33

    L & S are good at the one thing that makes them fit to advertise for SD. They can make $3 million disappear and not have anything of real value to show for it.

    And yes I could do better. Hell the sixth grade class at Kadoka could do better.

    Remember, Naked Gardening Day is May 2 this year. Maybe there’s an add in there someplace. No sound but nature, five seconds of an eight year old kid in a boat with his family fighting a fish with a big ass grin. Five seconds of a man alone in the badlands standing in the middle of a hundred acres of rocks with his hands outstretched holding two Fairburn agates. Then show a big winner in Deadwood with all the noise those places have. Then its back to nature sounds, you see two people skinny dipping in a little swimming hole. The camera zooms out and from a mile away you cant see any houses or roads. South Dakota, land of infinite variety.

    Even thats better then the crap their trying to push.

    The Blindman

  9. grudznick 2015-04-30 16:03

    Mr. Dithmer, are the two people a man and a woman or two women, and do you know which swimming hole it might be?

  10. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-30 17:42

    Grudz, this is about South Dakota! There will never be a picture of two women or two men together and nekkid!

  11. Joan Brown 2015-04-30 17:46

    I don’t know what it is about Schwan, but I didn’t like her when she was a news anchor on TV and I still don’t like her. I’m just plain tired of seeing Linda Daugaard telling the proper way to take care of kids, when I’m sure when her kids were babies it was popular to use all the things she is advocating against now. Just because she is the governor’s wife doesn’t mean she is somebody to look up to.

  12. Bill Dithmer 2015-04-30 17:57

    Grid, two people shown from the back only. What’s your preference?

    The Blindman

  13. Porter Lansing 2015-04-30 18:06

    Why does the only vetted group (those familiar and capable of enduring the hardships of prairie life in an austerity driven, conservatively governed wind farm) leave when they graduate high school? Because the tolerance level for even the slightest bit of diversity is as low as the self-esteem of those Republicans who see the poor and underprivileged as their adversary to prosperity. The enemy to your progress, conservatives, are the wealthy above you on the totem of success standing on your head and holding you down. Not those below you (economically) only wanting a fair shake and what their taxes have entitled them to. One untried solution to worker attraction and economic growth …. let the liberals govern for a couple decades, conservative voters. The Republicans have used all their ideas with little accomplishment.

  14. Porter Lansing 2015-05-01 07:22

    PS …. until SoDak begins to recognize the rights of women to govern their health few business’ will consider moving their operations and employees to a state where half their employees feel like second class citizens. Here’s what the population should reflect in a pro-business state, for growth to occur.
    DENVER POST READERS POLL (this morning … 5/01/2015)
    Should the legislature pass Senate Bill 285, which would require an ultrasound and a 24-hour-waiting period for women seeking an abortion?
    Total Votes = 1031
    276 Votes, or 26.77 %
    755 Votes, or 73.22 %

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