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Aberdeen Development Corporation Gets out of Leasing Business, Moves Downtown with Radio Station!

Mike Bockorny writes a lengthy column in the Aberdeen American News explaining how the Aberdeen Development Corporation has had to work really hard to save itself from bankruptcy. Apparently 80% of its income was coming from leasing a building to Molded Fiber Glass, so when that factory faced possible closure due to Trumpist sabotage of green energy in 2017, Bockorny’s outfit faced certain doom. Bockorny explains the development corporation has cut staff from six to three and plans to stay that lean. They’re seeking more sponsorships from local businesses. ADC is also getting out of the leasing business and planning spec buildings for sale only:

It has long been a hallmark of ours to construct buildings of varying types and lease them long term to tenants. During the past 24 months, the development corporation has sold all but three of our buildings. Of the existing three, it is likely one will be sold within the next three years. Due to contractual components, the second will be held for the short term, and I will discuss the third shortly. This was done to remove the development corporation from long-term property management that required significant staff and financial resources.

While we will never say never, it is unlikely the development corporation will construct a building with the intent of a longstanding hold for a tenant in the foreseeable future. It is likely we will continue to construct buildings in special situations and/or rehabilitate existing structures with the intent to then sell them back into the private market [Mike Bockorny, “Changing and Saving the Aberdeen Development Corp.,” Aberdeen American News, 2020.05.21].

Among the buildings the development corporation is offloading is its own headquarters out on the boonie-edge of eastern Aberdeen. (Mike probably just got sick of the fart gas from AGP.) In what I view as a brilliant move, ADC is moving into a new shared facility right on Main Street, on top of the the now-empty eyesore where Malchow’s furniture store burned down last fall:

Mike Bockorny of the Aberdeen Development Corp. announced plans Monday night at Aberdeen City council’s meeting for a $2.5 million plan to build a new plaza on main street in Aberdeen.

The plan includes renovating the Anchors of Faith Building and rebuild on the spot where Malchow’s on Main furniture once stood.  The building will then house the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Aberdeen Development Corp, South Dakota Small Business Development Center, Dakota Broadcasting and a new business the Market on the plaza [Adam St. Paul, “New $2.5 Million ‘Malchow’s Plaza’ Announced for Downtown Aberdeen,” Aberdeen American News, 2020.05.19].

Who wouldn’t rather sit in an office on Main Street, where you can walk across the alley and get a couple slices of Thatzza Pizza for lunch, than sitting out in the blizzard-blasted hinterlands where no one can see you? Now instead of inviting all those capitalists he tries to recruit to see a desolate landscape that reminds them how unusually far they and their workers and their products will be from the Interstate, Bockorny can now bring those marks right downtown where all the action is, where they actually walk on a brisk, sunny day to see several of the amenities that make the Hub City the Fun City.

Plus, Adam St. Paul can now play Chris in the Morning with his own KBHR window looking out on Main Street.

I don’t usually have much good to say about the shell-gamers playing economic development with South Dakota’s narrow-minded one-party monolith and the corporate pirates coming here mostly to plunder our capital and dodge taxes. But moving the Aberdeen Development Corporation downtown with a bunch of other organizations and a radio station good entrepreneurial thinking. Well done, Mike!


  1. David Newquist 2020-05-21

    When there is a major change in a government-related agency and a newspaper lets its head person announce the changes, the alarms should be atingling. A reporter should be assigned who can give some background and context to the changes.

    For years the Aberdeen Development Corp. operated almost as part of the city government. It received money from the city. It was conceived as an extension of the city’s economic development program. In 2018, it received $100,000 from the promotion fund. It has not been included in the last two budgets. Something has changed in its relationship to the city. That is reflected in the city development budget. Up through 2014, Aberdeen was budgeting as much as $2 million. Then in 2015, it cut the development budget to $522,000. I never found any news articles that explained those changes.

    I have been wary of the ADC. Market research organizations would on occasion contact me to do some research or find some students to do it. It was a matter of collecting information from local documents. When a story broke about local economic development, the media would always go to the Aberdeen Development Corp. for a comment. Often the forthcoming information was at a variance with what outside market researchers had concluded. I never quite understood the relationship of ADC with the city and the latest announcement doesn’t clarify it. Maybe someday a journalist may take a look at it.

  2. leslie 2020-05-22

    I hope to post a long coment (s) concerning loss of reporting business models and what it obviously portends.

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