SEDC Staff Member to Pursue Further Education

The SEDC Board of Directors wishes SEDC Marketing and Administration Coordinator Cayley Schmitt the best as she pursues her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. Her first class on campus will in fact be on Economic Development!


A 2020 graduate of Black Hills State University, Cayley has provided outstanding service to the SEDC Board and membership over the past two years. From helping the Spearfish business community navigate through the pandemic and witnessing record-breaking growth to developing a new internship program and launching several new marketing initiatives, Cayley has been a valuable member of the SEDC team. “Cayley will be greatly missed, but we wish her nothing but the best in her exciting new endeavor,” said SEDC Director Kory Menken.

SEDC Welcomes Summer Intern, Morgan Roberts

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) is happy to welcome Morgan Roberts, a 2019 graduate of Spearfish High School, as a part-time intern in the office this summer. Morgan will be a senior this fall at the University of South Dakota (USD) studying economics, accounting, and finance. Morgan is involved on campus as a Resident Assistant, President of the United Nations Association, National Communications Coordinator for the Residence Hall Association, and a Junior Annalist in Coyote Capital Management. During her time at Spearfish High School, Morgan was Captain of the Debate Team, Founder and President of the Future Business Leaders of America Club, and a member of the Knowledge Bowl, Cross-Country, and Track.

Prior to this internship with SEDC, Morgan gained valuable work experience through the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company (VCDC) as the Economic Development Intern in the spring semester of 2020. During her time there she assisted with a workforce housing initiative and researched new applicants in the process of moving their business to the Vermillion area.

During her time at SEDC this summer, Morgan will work alongside SEDC staff on a wide variety of economic development projects and initiatives. “I have loved growing up in Spearfish, and I am so excited to use my skills and experience to give back to the Spearfish community while learning more about the practical application of my business degrees,” said Morgan. “I enjoyed my time with the VCDC and cannot wait to get more hands-on experience with SEDC!”

“We are delighted to have Morgan 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.”

Childcare Challenges Discussed at SEDC Lunch and Learn

SEDC hosted a Child Care Panel Discussion at our quarterly Lunch and Learn on May 19. The panel of local experts included Karley LaFountain, Director of Prairie Hills Child Care; Barb Cline, Executive Director of Prairie Hills Transit; Kayla Klein, President and CEO of Klein Visioneering Group; Kirk Easton, Superintendent of the Spearfish School District; and Lyndsay Schreiber, Director of Human Resources at Pioneer Bank and Trust.

The panel discussion centered around the growing childcare needs of the Spearfish community, how they relate to workforce, and ways in which such needs can be addressed. The event concluded with community input in which healthy and construction conversation about potential solutions was had.

The insights shared will greatly help SEDC and our community partners to identify opportunities to resolve the issue of a lack of available child care options in Spearfish.

BHSU to Host Annual Economic Development Training Course

The basic economic development course “Fuel the Growth 2022: Advancing Economic Development in Our Communities” is returning to the Black Hills State University-Rapid City campus after its successful launch in 2021. 

Economic development professionals, board members, community leaders, business persons, and elected officials are invited to take part in the course from September 14-16, 2022. This course is a collaborative effort between Black Hills State University and other various entities including the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Black Hills Community Economic Development/Rushmore Region Alliance, West River Foundation, and Black Hills Energy.

“In its inaugural year, Fuel the Growth provided participants the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of economic development and the tools needed to be successful in their communities,” said Lori Frederick, senior business development representative at the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “It provides economic development professionals, community members, board members and elected officials the opportunity to learn about economic development in a hands-on learning environment from experienced professionals in the industry.”

The 2 ½ day training event will be led by economic development experts and will utilize presentations, panel discussions, and case studies to address 10 key topics in economic development including business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship, community and real estate development, strategic planning, organizational management, and ethics. In addition to learning from local and regional experts, participants will have an opportunity to engage with and learn from colleagues and other attendees through networking opportunities.

“Fuel the Growth broadened my understanding of economic development. It taught me not only what economic development is and all it encompasses, but also how sustainable development can be successfully implemented and provided me with the tools to do so,” said Cayley Schmitt, marketing & administrative coordinator at Spearfish Economic Development Corporation. “Furthermore, the networking provided through this course – in my fellow peers as well as the speakers – made the experience truly worthwhile.”

Hollie Stalder, executive director of Belle Fourche Development Corporation said, “Fuel the Growth is a well-balanced look at community and economic development for any size community. From the new professional in their economic development role to the seasoned director, this program has something for everyone. The relationships in the network of economic developers across the state are so valuable, and the time together to discuss the important topics facing each community is a huge benefit.”

SEDC Awarded Black Hills Energy Economic Development Grant

Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) recently received a grant through Black Hills Energy’s Economic Development Grant Program to support ongoing marketing efforts targeted toward recruiting additional skilled workforce to the Spearfish area.

Black Hills Energy aims to “Improve Life with Energy”, which goes beyond producing and delivering electricity, coal, oil or gas. It is part of Black Hills Energy’s mission statement to “strengthen communities and support growth and development.” The Black Hills Energy Economic Development Grant Program is one way the company is fulfilling that mission and supporting Spearfish.

Having enough of a trained workforce to keep up with business growth is one of the largest hurdles our community, any many others, are facing today. “This grant will further enhance our ongoing marketing strategies to attract workers to Spearfish,” said Kory Menken, SEDC Executive Director.

SEDC Presents 2022 Emerging Business Achievement Award

Creekside Bean and Vine was awarded the annual Emerging Business Achievement Award by Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) on Thursday, May 5. Members of the SEDC Board of Directors, SEDC staff and other community leaders were on hand to present the business owners and staff with the special recognition. The presentation was held in conjunction with National Small Business Week.

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 Creekside Bean and Vine’s dedication to innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit,” stated SEDC Executive Director Kory Menken. “It has been rewarding to work with them from the beginning and to witness their continued success.”

Located along Spearfish Creek in the Granary District of The Village at Creekside, Creekside Bean and Vine has been serving Spearfish and the surrounding area since 2019. Founded by sisters Vicki Furnish and Kelly Klein, as well as Vicki’s daughter and Kelly’s niece Megan Irwin, the family-run coffeeshop and wine bar places high value on the importance of community.

“We are honored to be part of a thriving small business community in Spearfish,” said Furnish. “We have enjoyed developing partnerships with so many other businesses and organizations whether it be the use of our space for special events such as private parties, community meetings, classes, and workshops or for featuring local artists and growers to provide excellent fresh coffee, food, and wine. We are all about making this a space that oozes the community feel of Spearfish!”

“On behalf of the team at Creekside Bean and Vine, we thank SEDC for choosing us for the 2022 Emerging Business Achievement Award,” Furnish expressed.

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 in January. Past Emerging Business Achievement Award winners include DirtBags BikeGear and Antunez Cuisine.

Mayor Senden Declares Economic Development Week

Written by Alex Portal, Black Hills Pioneer

During Monday’s Spearfish City Council meeting, Mayor John Senden proclaimed May 9-13, 2022, as Economic Development Week. “The City of Spearfish recognizes Economic Development Week and reminds individuals of the importance of this community celebration which supports expanding career opportunities and making lives better,” Mayor Senden said during the first proclamation of his tenure, having been sworn in as Mayor shortly beforehand.

“Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth, and provide a stable tax base,” the proclamation states, adding, “Economic developers stimulate and incubate entrepreneurism in order to help establish the next generation of new businesses, which is the hallmark of the American economy.”

Mayor Senden presented the proclamation to Kory Menken, executive director of Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC). “Thank all of you for your continued support of SEDC,” Menken said following the reading of the proclamation.

BHSU Business Student Job Shadows at the SEDC Office

Allison Gingerich, a junior at Black Hills State University (BHSU), recently spent an afternoon job shadowing at Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to learn more about a career in the field of economic development. Originally from Gillette, Wyoming, Gingerich is currently studying Business Administration with a concentration in Economics and is actively involved in the university’s Jacket Investment Club and Buzz Marketing Club. After encouragement from her economics professor, Gingerich reached out to SEDC for an opportunity to experience what a job in economic development might look like.

“It is truly exciting to meet another young professional, much like myself, interested in economic development and wanting to make a career out of improving the community,” said Cayley Schmitt, SEDC Marketing and Administration Coordinator and 2020 Black Hills State University graduate. Schmitt also studied Business Administration and Economics and was an active member in the BHSU Jacket Investment Club. “The university is producing a wealth of potential difference makers each year and Allison is another great example.”

“There are many different practices that go into creating a developing economy,” Gingerich discovered. “I am grateful for the opportunity to better understand how economic development plays a vital role in the community,” she expressed, saying the experience has her intrigued to discover more about business and community development. “This industry is now one of my top career choices.”

“We were delighted to have Allison spend the afternoon with our team to learn more about SEDC’s mission and objectives, as well as about economic development in general,” said SEDC Executive Director Kory Menken. “Job shadowing is a great opportunity for students to explore career interests, build professional connections, and get a glimpse into a job’s perks and challenges. Spearfish is fortunate to have a pipeline of talent such as BHSU in our own backyard.”

BHSU-SEDC Internship Program Off to a Strong Start

The first cohort of students in the BHSU-SEDC Workforce Internship Program are at work within the Spearfish business community this winter. Ten students pursuing degrees in areas such as business, education, and communications are working part-time this semester for a handful of local business including Children First, Dakota Electric, and All About Potential Chiropractic PC.

The internship program is a partnership between Black Hills State University (BHSU) and Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to address both the high workforce needs of the Spearfish business community and low retention rates of BHSU graduates in the Spearfish area. Students earn academic credit for their internship experience as well as a competitive wage for their work. BHSU hopes to provide both students and employers with long-term sustainable employment within the Spearfish community, one student and business at a time.

BHSU’s new Career Development Director, Jin Woo Kim, has been tasked with implementing the internship program, working with students and businesses to create an experience that is rewarding for both sides. Originally from Sheridan, Wyoming, Kim studied at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Kansas State University and worked for the University of Tampa as their Career Readiness Coach before coming to BHSU to head this new initiative. Kim encourages employers to reach out not only to get involved, but to support students at BHSU to stay in Spearfish and call the area their forever workplace and home.

Finance assistance is available through SEDC for qualified internship positions. Businesses interested in hiring a BHSU student as an intern are encouraged to begin by applying through SEDC.

Spearfish, Black Hills State Represented in Pierre

Alex Portal | Black Hills Pioneer | February 16, 2022

For the first time in almost a decade, a group from Spearfish descended on the state Capitol in Pierre to advocate for Black Hills State University with the legislature and put Spearfish at the forefront of state lawmakers’ minds.

The Spearfish Chamber of Commerce, Visit Spearfish, and Spearfish Economic Development Corporation, along with community donors had been planning a group trip for the 2021 legislative session, however, due to COVID-19 concerns, that plan fizzled out. But with renewed vigor, caused by a call to action from Sen. Ryan Maher during a community meeting regarding university funding, last September, the trip was back on for the 2022 session.

“That’s a lot about what it’s about, all of the different legislative matters that effect the success of Spearfish – workforce, the university, education, tourism,” said Mistie Caldwell, executive director of Visit Spearfish. “So we want to make sure that we, number on, show them appreciation for what they have done and continue to do for us, and then visit about some things that perhaps are of a more urgent matter.”

The trip consisted of presentations from representatives from the South Dakota Board of Regents, Department of Education, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and Department of Tourism, as well as lunch with local legislators, listening session on the House and Senate floors, and a photo op with Gov. Kristi Noem on the Capitol Rotunda stairs.