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.
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.
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.”