Here’s another reason South Dakota’s trust industry is not the great economic development driver that the Republican lawyer/banker clique are pretending it is.
New businesses are good for the local economy because, among other benefits, they have overhead. A business usually needs a place to do business—a store, an office, a workshop, a studio. New businesses rent and fix up downtown storefronts, or they buy land and build new buildings. Self-employed contractors acquire more tools and trucks than their garages can hold, so they buy lots and put up steel barns. Even people doing doing business at home contribute to construction activity: our local lumberyards enjoyed a pandemic boom because lots of remote workers added office space to their houses or converted backyard sheds into remote work pods.
But many of the licensed trust companies on the Division of Banking’s list are mere paper tigers, taking up no real constructable, paintable, maintainable space. Going by the trusts’ listed addresses, those 102 licensed cash-concealers occupy only 39 distinct buildings. Here are the most popular locations with the number of trusts housed in various pigeonholes therein:
- 212 South Main Avenue, Sioux Falls: 36
- 401 East 8th Street, Sioux Falls: 11
- 201 South Phillips Avenue, Sioux Falls: 5
- 101 South Reid Street, Sioux Falls: 4
- 140 North Phillips Avenue, Sioux Falls: 3
- 300 North Dakota Avenue, Sioux Falls: 3
Those trusts aren’t building new buildings or even maintaining big busy offices with lots of people needing lots of desks and supply closets and break rooms and bubblers. They’re occupying mostly empty spaces providing little of the spillover economic boost we get from real businesses making real things and spending real money on real overhead. They are literal shells serving solely to help rich people continue to hoard their wealth, with a handful of tricky lawyers skimming some foam from the top.