NOV. 3, 2017 - VOL. 54 No. 2

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Through the Lens of Agriculture

By Mike Lynch
the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

Agriculture provides a $20.9 million economic impact to South Dakota and the extensive growth and development of Sioux Falls has been significantly shaped by this industry. The Stockyards Ag Experience, a Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce-scheduled Community Appeals campaign, will tell this remarkable story.

The campaign, which runs from Nov. 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, has set a $1.2 million fundraising goal from the business community toward their overall objective of raising $4.1 million.

The Stockyards Ag Experience envisions a community that recognizes the impact of agriculture. "Our mission is to provide interactive learning experiences that highlight history, science, culture and economic impact," said Executive Director Jennifer Hoesing.

Phase I of the project, the Stockyards Ag Experience Barn at Falls Park, opened in March 2017. Funding from the Community Appeals campaign will support Phase II, the Plaza. When finished, it will honor the legacy and continuing impact of agriculture in our region while creating a gateway from Interstate 229 to some of Sioux Falls' most popular destinations: Falls Park and Phillips Avenue in downtown Sioux Falls. In addition, the Plaza will serve as a bookend to the City of Sioux Falls' rail yard redevelopment project. Along with the Plaza, nearby destinations like Falls Park, the Sioux Falls Visitor Information Center, Queen Bee Mill ruins, the Falls Park Farmers Market and Levitt at the Falls (opening in 2019) create a cluster of activity. Groundbreaking for the Plaza is planned for 2018, with completion scheduled in 2019.

Jim Woster, who founded the Stockyards Ag Experience in 2012, said the Stockyards Ag Experience Barn and Plaza will forever be a reminder that the Sioux Falls Stockyards, its customers and all of the related industries were indeed very special. "It will ensure that the women and men who made it what it was, which impacted so much in this region, will never be forgotten."

The project evolved to include contemporary agriculture, in recognition of the continuing impact of agriculture not only in Sioux Falls, but across South Dakota. South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Mike Jaspers said that the Stockyards Ag Experience honors our state's agricultural history and today's farm to table story. "It's a valuable addition to South Dakota and provides a wonderful educational experience connecting consumers with food production, past and present."

According to Woster, the Stockyards Ag Experience will add another significant quality of life component to the community, as it will provide access to affordable cultural activities. "Through programming and collaboration, the Barn and Plaza are places for community members of all ages to meet and learn about farming and food, to convene conversations about agriculture in historic context and in contemporary practice. The project tells the history of Sioux Falls through the lens of agriculture."

In addition to the extensive quality of life attributes that the Stockyards Ag Experience brings to Sioux Falls, campaign co-chair Dana Dykhouse, First PREMIER Bank, believes there will be significant economic development attributes as well. "The Stockyards Ag Experience Plaza will play a vital role in the revitalization of Weber Avenue and the eastern side of Sioux Falls."

Being selected for a Chamber Community Appeals campaign is catalytic, Hoesing acknowledged, because it demonstrates the Sioux Falls business community's support for this project. "Building on the foundation of the Community Appeal, we have been able to begin fundraising outside of Sioux Falls with confidence. As we turn our attention to this upcoming campaign, numerous community leaders have enthusiastically agreed to volunteer for the campaign. They often say yes because they trust the Community Appeals process."

Mike Begeman, Sanford Health, will co-chair the effort with Dykhouse. The leadership team also includes Doug Barthel, Sanford Health; Tom Bosch, Avera Health; Greg Carmon, Midwest Railcar Repair; Suzy Collignon-Hodgen, DocuTAP; Pat Costello, Schoeneman Brothers Company; Brian Gilbert, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls; Scott Lawrence, Lawrence & Schiller, Inc.; David Mickelson, Graham Companies; Doug Morrison, Sioux Falls School District; Tony Nour, First PREMIER Bank; and Paige Pearson Meyer, Midco. Hoesing said that with this exceptional group of business leaders teaming up with honorary co-chair Jim Woster, the campaign's momentum could not be stronger.

Thus far, Hoesing said there has been very positive feedback from the Sioux Falls area business community regarding the project.

"The business community in Sioux Falls recognizes not only the role of agriculture in times past, but the ways ag continues to shape and develop the community," Hoesing said. "So many of the objectives of the Stockyards Ag Experience align with community priorities: educating people of all ages, providing access to cultural programs, collaborating to provide valuable services to our audience and contributing to economic development."

Community Appeals Campaign
Goal: $1.2 million
Nov. 1, 2017-March 31, 2018

For more information, visit

The Community Appeals campaign supports Stockyards Ag Experience phase two: the Plaza.

The Stockyards History exhibit interprets the 92-year history of the Sioux Falls Stockyards with first-person interviews that examine the complex's contributions to local culture, society and economy.

The Farm to Table Story chronicles how food grown within a 100-mile radius of our location makes its way from the farm to the family table. The interactive exhibit features small grains and livestock while addressing some of the most pressing issues in agriculture.

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