SEDC and Visit Spearfish Partner at Grillfest in St. Paul, MN

SEDC recently partnered with Visit Spearfish in St. Paul, MN to host a booth at Grillfest. The partnership was a continuation of ongoing efforts by both organizations to attract new workers, businesses and visitors to Spearfish.

SEDC Marketing Coordinator Cayley Schmitt and Visit Spearfish Marketing Assistant Jackie Robles interacted with hundreds of guests at the event, promoting Spearfish’s outstanding craft brewing and food scenes, outdoor recreation environment, favorable business climate, education and employment opportunities, and quality of life.

The upcoming 605 Black Hills Classic Beer Festival, to be held in Spearfish’s Lions Park on September 11, was also promoted during the event. The upcoming beer festival, hosted by 605 Magazine and sponsored by Visit Spearfish, SEDC and others, will feature unlimited beer tastings from breweries across South Dakota as well as live music and food trucks by local artists and entrepreneurs.

“We found the event [Grillfest] fit for collaboration with Spearfish Economic Development to further promote the outdoor adventure, beer and food culture that Spearfish is home to,” said Visit Spearfish Executive Director, Mistie Caldwell. “Everyone starts as a visitor and Visit Spearfish understands the importance of introducing visitors to the business side of our community, and Grillfest gave both organizations the opportunity to fulfill our missions and are excited to see the impact it will have on the economic development of Spearfish in the future!”

SEDC Names 2021 Women in Leadership Scholarship Recipient

Karley LaFountain, Director of Prairie Hills Child Care Center in Spearfish, has been selected as the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) 2021 Women in Leadership Scholarship recipient. The annual scholarship will provide LaFountain with the opportunity to attend the South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) 2021 Women in Leadership series to be held July 27-29 at The Barn at Aspen Acres near Spearfish.

The Women in Leadership series is in its eighth year, thus far graduating over 150 local business leaders with specialized training in communication, decision making, project management and other vital aspects to successful leadership in both professional and personal contexts. This year’s program is themed “Focusing on the Future” and will feature over a dozen guest speakers to engage and connect with LaFountain and the other program participants.

“I am very honored and excited to have earned this scholarship and to be able to spend two and a half days with incredible female leaders from our area,” said LaFountain. “Getting to grow and learn alongside them is going to be an amazing experience that I get to use right away with all my staff in hopes to empower them and help them grow.” LaFountain is specifically looking forward to gaining more knowledge in the areas of conflict management and mentorship.

“Supporting and investing in the professional development and personal growth of our local business leaders is very important to our organization,” noted SEDC Executive Director Kory Menken. “SEDC is pleased to partner with SD CEO in helping to build strong leaders for our  community and region.”

SEDC Awards 2021 Emerging Business Achievement Award to DirtBags BikeGear

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) awarded DirtBags BikeGear with the organization’s Emerging Business Achievement Award on May 14. Members of the SEDC Board of Directors, SEDC staff and other community leaders were on hand to present owners Emily and Heath Brown with the special recognition. The presentation was held in conjunction with National Economic Development Week, which was officially proclaimed in Spearfish as May 9-15, 2021, by Spearfish Mayor Dana Boke.

The Emerging Business Achievement Award was created by SEDC in 2020 to honor start-up businesses that demonstrate successful business practices, practice civic engagement, and partner with other businesses in the Spearfish community. “We are pleased to celebrate DirtBags’ many accomplishments and to recognize their dedication to innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit,” stated SEDC Executive Director Kory Menken. “It has been rewarding to work with them and to witness their continued growth.”

Located in a workshop behind their home at 524 N 7th Street in Spearfish, DirtBags has been operating part-time since 2015. DirtBags began when the husband-and-wife duo decided to sew themselves bags for a bikepacking trip through the Black Hills. Following the excursion, the couple decided to sell their high-quality handmade gear to support other outdoor bicycling enthusiasts. In December of 2020, Emily transitioned to DirtBags BikeGear full-time. The company has experienced enough growth to add four additional part-time positions and multiple machines to their fleet of equipment over the past year and is expecting a very busy summer in 2021.

“We love the bike community that is in the Black Hills of South Dakota,” said Emily Brown. “The trails are epic, the race events never disappoint, and the people are the absolute best. We want to keep this community thriving!”

To be eligible for the annual SEDC Emerging Business Achievement Award, businesses must be located in Spearfish and have been in operation full-time for no more than three years. The award joins the Award of Excellence and the Spirit of Enterprise Award (formerly known as the Rising Star Award) which are presented each year at the SEDC Annual Meeting.

SEDC Lunch & Learn with BHSU Career Development Center

BLACK HILLS PIONEER – In a push to make sure students are as prepared as possible for future careers, Black Hills State University (BHSU) is expanding its Student Success Center and Career Development department. The Career Development Program Coordinator Andrea Bakeberg explained that “really, all of the services and things I do are geared towards that end goal of getting students out into the workplace and really to be successful when they get there.”

Bakeberg reviews resumes and cover letters, conducts mock interviews, and helps students research what types of jobs there are within the field of the majors to prepare for their job search. She also arranges classroom visits with employers from the community to present to students some of the basic qualities they look for when hiring. She also hopes to arrange on-site visits to bring students into workplaces in the future.

Bakeberg said she directs students to use an online job search resource called Handshake to post resumes and search not only for careers, but part-time and full-time work while in school, as well. Handshake is geared towards college students and recent graduates. It allows students to search for all types of employers and for employers to seek out employees based on exact parameters they select themselves.

Priscilla Romkema, provost and vice president of academic affairs at BHSU said the Student Success Center and Career Development programs are meant not only to help students, but also address the growing workforce needs in Spearfish. “We want to work hand in glove with the business community,” she said addressing a group of employers during the SEDC event. ” We want our students to have these opportunities and these two individuals are doing a great job in helping us do our part in preparing so that they’re ready for you.”
To learn more, contact the BHSU Student Success Center by calling 642-6459 or by emailing

SEDC Receives Black Hills Energy Economic Development Grant

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) recently received a $3,000 grant through Black Hills Energy’s Economic Development Grant program to support ongoing marketing efforts targeted toward recruiting additional outdoor product companies to the Spearfish area. The marketing initiatives are dually geared toward workforce attraction.

Spearfish’s outdoor attractions and active lifestyle appeal have been recognized by numerous organizations and publications and have already helped to attract a handful of outdoor-centric companies to the community. SEDC is working hard to encourage more companies of this nature to relocate or expand to the area as they create the type of clean industry and good-paying jobs the community desires.

“This grant will significantly enhance our ongoing marketing strategies,” said Kory Menken, SEDC Executive Director. “Thanks in part to past grant support from Black Hills Energy, SEDC has made significant inroads with the outdoor recreation community and looks forward to capitalizing on the increased interest in South Dakota resulting from the circumstances of 2020.”

Within the past several years, SEDC has attended a variety of strategic tradeshows including the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and the International Fly Tackle Dealer show. Participation in these shows provided SEDC with the unique opportunity to connect directly with key decision makers and influencers from the outdoor product market and has resulted in continued communication with over three dozen prospective companies. This newest grant will allow SEDC to continue to place advertisements in key regional and national publications, as well as boost existing social media, video, and website efforts.

“At Black Hills Energy we are committed to helping our customers and communities thrive and grow.” said Marc Eyre, Vice President of Electric Operation at Black Hills Energy. “Spearfish offers world class outdoor recreation opportunities, so we were very excited to support SEDC through our Economic Development Grant program as we work together to bring additional outdoor businesses to the community.”

SEDC Holds 41st Annual Meeting Virtually

In recognition of local, state, and national COVID-19 guidelines, Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) held its Annual Meeting virtually this year on January 28.  The organization -dedicated to improving and diversifying economic opportunities within the Spearfish community- has been in operation since 1980.

Despite the change in format, the program nevertheless included economic and community development updates from SEDC and the City of Spearfish, a keynote address from Black Hills State University President, Dr. Laurie Stenberg Nichols, and the presentation of the 2021 Spirit of Enterprise Award and 2021 Award of Excellence. “In spite of the challenges we have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a year of opportunity and growth for both SEDC and Spearfish,” said SEDC Executive Director Kory Menken. “While it was a difficult decision to not hold an in-person Annual Meeting this year, we were excited to celebrate the community’s many accomplishments and to share SEDC’s goals for the future.”

The Spirit of Enterprise Award was created in 2002 to recognize the entrepreneurial spirit of those who take risks and make the investment of time and money to grow a small business. The 2021 award was presented to City Brew Coffee of Spearfish. “Winning this award solidifies what we have hoped to create, and it tells us that other business leaders in the community recognize what we have been trying to accomplish,” stated City Brew Coffee co-owner Joe Conklin. “This is an honor,” added Conklin’s daughter and business partner, Traci Conklin-Barkey. “We appreciate this and everything SEDC has done for the community.”

The Award of Excellence was established in 1999 to recognize a business which best exemplifies dedication and commitment within the areas of business development, capital investment and job creation. The 2021 award was presented to Pioneer Bank & Trust of Spearfish. “I look at the list of previous winners and it is pretty impressive,” said Tom Deis, President of Pioneer Bank & Trust in Spearfish. “It’s really an honor and we are so proud to be a part of SEDC and to support the organization.”

It was also announced that Thomas Worsley from Monument Health and James Mortenson from Black Hills Community Bank had been elected by the SEDC membership to serve on the Board of Directors beginning in February 2021. Current SEDC Board member Dr. Priscilla Romkema from Black Hills State University was also elected to serve a second 3-year term. Outgoing Board members Wayne Klein from Landmark Realty & Development and Cody Byrum from Black Hills Community Bank were recognized for their six years of service to SEDC.

The following slate of Executive Officers for 2021 was also shared:

  • Past President: Barb Cline, Prairie Hills Transit
  • President: Kevin Rhoades, White’s Canyon Motors
  • President-Elect: Joe Conklin, City Brew Coffee/Qdoba
  • Vice President: Whitney Driscoll, Two Points Ranch
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Ryan Wordeman, The Real Estate Center

The entire 2021 SEDC Annual Meeting can be viewed by visiting the SEDC website at


SEDC Awards Inaugural Emerging Business Achievement Award

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) has awarded Antunez Cuisine with the organization’s inaugural Emerging Business Achievement Award. Members of the SEDC Board of Directors and staff were on hand to present owners Jared DeGraaf and Sabrina Heredia with the special recognition. Today’s presentation was held in conjunction with National Entrepreneur’s Day.

The Emerging Business Achievement Award was created by SEDC in 2020 to honor start-up businesses that demonstrate successful business practices, practice civic engagement, and partner with other businesses in the Spearfish community. “We are pleased to celebrate Antunez’s many accomplishments and to recognize their dedication to innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit,” stated SEDC Executive Director Kory Menken.

Located at 117 E Illinois Street in downtown Spearfish since opening their doors in 2018, Antunez serves fresh, hand-crafted dishes that are inspired by Latin, Hispanic, and Mexican cuisines along with wine and beer selections from around the world. DeGraaf and Heredia are also active within the Spearfish community and are expanding their operations to include a new wine shop complete with tastings.

“To be selected out of so many great businesses for this inaugural award is truly an honor and quite unexpected,” said DeGraaf. “We started this restaurant because we saw an opportunity to do what we are passionate about while at the same time provide for our family. What we have received in return, though, has far surpassed anything we imagined. The friends, relationships, kindness, love, and camaraderie we continue to experience make every day at the restaurant more worth it than words can express. Our sincere thanks to all family, friends, employees, and amazingly loyal customers who have made this venture not only possible, but a reality. A very big thank you also to the Board of SEDC for the honor bestowed and for making us feel so special.”


To be eligible for the annual SEDC Emerging Business Achievement Award, businesses must be located in Spearfish and have been in operation for no more than three years. The new award joins the Award of Excellence and the Spirit of Enterprise Award (formerly known as the Rising Star Award) which are presented each year at the SEDC Annual Meeting.

SEDC Awards Rainbow Trois to Local Businesses

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) recently sent a Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) survey to its entire membership with the incentive of being entered into a drawing for a case of Rainbow Trois, the new collaboration IPA created by Crow Peak Brewing, Sawyer Brewing, and Spearfish Brewing. Proceeds from the sale of Rainbow Trois go toward supporting the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives.

One of the main missions of SEDC is to help local businesses thrive. Through the BRE survey, SEDC was able to gain a better understanding of individual businesses along with their perception of the Spearfish economic climate.

After completing the survey, Jeremy Hoven of Black Hills Community Bank and Kelsie Darling of Quik Signs were chosen as the lucky prize winners. The cases of beer were hand-delivered by SEDC staff earlier this week.

On behalf of SEDC, thank you to all who participated in the survey.

SEDC & GOED Visit with Spearfish Businesses

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) recently teamed up to host several Small Group Retention and Expansion (R&E) Zoom meetings with dozens of Spearfish businesses.

Discussion topics included the impact of the COVID-19 situation on individual businesses and industry sectors in general, solutions and adaptations implemented by the Spearfish business community, and the variety of financial relief programs made available during the pandemic. Industry groups ranged from coffee shops and restaurants to manufacturing and construction services.

“The goal of these conversations was to answer questions, help find solutions, and gather input on how we can serve the local business community even better moving forward,” explained Cayley Schmitt, SEDC Marketing & Administrative Coordinator. “We sincerely appreciate the excellent feedback we received from our local businesses.  It was also wonderful the way the participants were able to exchange strategies and ideas amongst themselves.”

“It has been a great opportunity to assist local businesses and provide a support system to them throughout these unprecedented times,” commented Hannah Downs from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “I am so proud of each of them for how they are handling this situation. It is a true testament to the grit and optimism that South Dakota’s business owners have.”

Earlier this year, SEDC also took the lead on forming a Small Business Advisory Committee consisting of a diverse mix of small business owners and managers.  The mission of the group was to help provide input and recommendations to the City of Spearfish on the public health emergency ordinance as well as what steps could be taken to begin the reopening process in the community.

“Assisting with the retention, growth and economic well-being of our Spearfish businesses has always been a top priority for the SEDC Board and staff.  In response to this challenging time in our nation’s history, we have doubled down on those efforts,” said SEDC Executive Director Kory Menken.  “I commend Cayley Schmitt from our office and Hannah Downs, Business Development Representative for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, for spearheading the Small Group R&E initiative.”

Maren Long to Complete Summer Internship

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) is pleased to welcome Maren Long as the organization’s newest intern.

A native of Spearfish, Long is currently an economics student at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. In addition to Honors College, Long is a member of Delta Delta Delta, Economics Club, Tennis Club and French Club. While a student at Spearfish High School, Long was Senior Class Vice President, Captain of the Tennis Team, and a member of the National Honors Society.

“I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity to strengthen my work abilities that I will carry with me throughout my career while also assisting with the growth and establishment of Spearfish businesses,” said Long.  “I look forward to learning the functions and goals of SEDC, developing my knowledge of businesses and economic health, and working with an incredible team.”

As part of her internship, Long will assist in the creation and distribution of marketing materials, perform economic data collection and analysis, and perform basic office functions. SEDC’s internships are structured to provide the intern with substantial and transferable skills and experience.

“We are delighted to have Maren on the team,” said Kory Menken, SEDC Executive Director. “Internships are a great way for students to strengthen their leadership talents, their ability to work well with different groups of individuals, and their skills in seeing projects through from start to finish. Additionally, interns can bring with them novel perspectives and fresh ideas.”