I give South Dakota government a hard time for its narrow business-über-alles mindset. Our short-sighted willingness to do anything for a buck leads to air and water pollution from CAFOs, superspreader rallies amidst a pandemic, undercompensation for workers, and underinvestment in public goods.
Of course, every state looks to do favors for big business. Even the neighborly socialists to our east in Minnesota encourage businesses to build and grow in the Twin Cities and out around those 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota just manages to do it better, hosting eighteen Fortune 500 companies (compared to zero in South Dakota) and taxing their colossal income to build more roads and libraries and pay their teachers notably better wages.
And even when Minnesota creates a new committee to work on economic development, they don’t just pick a bunch of corporate cronies to figure out how to raid the treasury and concentrate wealth among their one-percenter friends. They include advocates for working people and social justice to focus on sharing the wealth with all Minnesotans:
Gov. Tim Walz has tapped 15 business and nonprofit leaders to form a Council on Economic Expansion to address the labor shortage in Minnesota and ensure that the state’s economic recovery is fair.
…The council will be co-chaired by Paul Williams, CEO of Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis, and Jeff Ettinger, former CEO of Hormel Foods Inc. in Austin.
The other members, who will serve one-year terms, include Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Bharti Wahi, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, and Penny Wheeler, CEO of Allina Health. It also includes leaders from labor and industry groups such as SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
Williams noted that the pandemic has been particularly hard on people and communities of color.
“We see that day and day out, low-income folks are really struggling to make ends meet even in the midst of a strong economy recovery,” he said [Kavita Lumar, “As Minnesota’s Economic Recovery Zig-Zags, Walz Taps a Council to Drive Growth,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2021.09.14].
Imagine the conversations we might have about economic development if, among all the bankers and realtors and other suits, South Dakota’s Board of Economic Development included the CEO of Feeding South Dakota and the chair of South Dakota Voices for Peace. Imagine if the next Governor chose as the next Economic Development chief not another pocket-lining crony-capitalist but one of the Presentation Sisters, or maybe the president of the South Dakota Federation of Labor.
Economic development should be more than more favors for the top capitalists and the fantasy that trickle-down is anything other than piss-upon. Economic development should view the economy as a whole, and our economic development committees should represent all interests.