Kaylee Cormier, a student at Black Hills State University, participated in the BHSU-SEDC Workforce Internship Program during the 2022 Spring Semester. Cormier was given the opportunity to gain experience while putting her classroom learning into practical application at the D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery & Archives. She worked with the staff of both the Booth Society and the Fish Hatchery as well as many other community members and entities who support the two organizations.
Cormier was given hands on experience through a variety of duties including attending staff and board meetings, creating volunteer rosters and packets, preparing packets for South Dakota Legislative Day, creating and preparing an outdoor scavenger hunt, preparing free fish food cards to be distributed to local businesses and to be handed out this summer, and writing a grant proposal provided by Zonta.
Karen Holzer, executive director of the Booth Society, comments, “Kaylee was a great asset to our non-profit organization. She put a lot of effort into the tasks that were assigned to her. We are pleased to have had her on our team.” To the right is a photograph of Cormier working with the free fish food cards at the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery. She compiled data, organized, and prepared cards for the 2022 season.
“Before interning with Booth Society, I never would’ve thought that I would’ve gained this much experience from a single place. From my classes at BHSU, I gained knowledge that helped me with my work during my internship. Through one of my classes, I learned about grant proposals and how to write one, which helped when I had to write a grant for a proposed project. Although, being able to do it in the real world of work is a different experience. It’s great to have opportunities like this provided by SEDC, and the companies that support it, that allow one to gain so much experience that will aid one in their future career,” Cormier told SEDC.
Tiffany Even of Legacy Financial Partners and Kaitlin Palmer of Black Hills State University in Spearfish have been selected as the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) 2022 Women in Leadership Scholarship recipients. The annual scholarship will provide Even and Palmer with the opportunity to attend the South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) 2022 Women in Leadership series to be held July 26-28 at The Barn at Aspen Acres near Spearfish.
The Women in Leadership series is in its ninth 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. “Formal leadership training has evaded my past, and I feel a strong desire to pursue tools and skills to become a better leader in my various roles. It is then my hope to make a greater difference in my areas of influence within our company and community,” says Even. While Palmer said, “I would like to learn how to champion others and become a better mentor to other young professionals so that I can pass on the amazing guidance I have benefited from.” Both scholarship recipients have displayed a strong desire to give back to the Spearfish community.
“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.”
The first house constructed at Sky Ridge, the workforce housing development located south of Colorado Boulevard and west of U.S. Highway 85 in the Exit 17 area, is now move-in ready.
“The City of Spearfish is pleased to be a part of this partnership to bring workforce housing options to the community,” Mayor John Senden said. “Each milestone at Sky Ridge is something to be celebrated, and I can’t wait to see the first families move into these newly-completed homes.”
Construction of the first houses at Sky Ridge began in December 2021. The affordable workforce housing development, built in phases over five years, uses income brackets from the 2022 income guidelines from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to give priority to buyers at or below 115 percent and 125 percent of the area median income for Lawrence County, depending on the category of the home, sold up to the maximum price point established the South Dakota Housing Development Authority’s First-Time Homebuyer Program, which is currently $300,000. More than 40 percent of the homes will be sold at $197,000, though they are appraised at approximately $300,000.
The square-footage of the home designs vary from 800-1,700 square feet, and Dream Design International, Inc., is responsible for constructing the homes, using high-quality and energy-efficient materials to increase the livability and longevity of the homes. Sky Ridge houses include up-scale appliances, sprinkler systems, and fiber-optic wiring.
“Sky Ridge is a model that can be used elsewhere,” said Hani Shafai, president of Dream Design International, Inc. “Spearfish is a shining example of how communities throughout South Dakota can take action so nurses, teachers, police officers, and others can afford to live in the communities where they want to work.”
The first six homes are expected to be completed in the next month, with up to 40 expected to be completed this year.
“SEDC (Spearfish Economic Development Corporation) applauds the City of Spearfish for taking the initiative to address a significant obstacle being faced by many of our residents and local businesses, and for helping to ensure that more individuals have an opportunity to both live and work in our amazing town,” Kory Menken, executive director of SEDC, said. “It is rewarding to know that the first of many Spearfish families will soon be moving into a home of their very own at Sky Ridge.”
The property for Sky Ridge was purchased in 2019, with construction beginning in 2020. In addition to the housing, the development includes a sports complex that will feature six regulation soccer fields and four regulation softball fields.
A 2016 housing study in Spearfish showcased the need for more affordable housing options in Spearfish and indicated the City would have to take an active role in developing workforce housing. The Mayor and City Council, in collaboration with the private industry, worked to establish a plan that allowed a public-private partnership to improve the supply of affordable housing in Spearfish.
The City is responsible for building the streets and utilities at Sky Ridge, with those costs to be recovered through tax-increment financing (TIF). A TIF district is a public financing system that uses future increases in property tax to reimburse the costs of public improvements built within a designated TIF district boundary. As real estate value increases within that boundary area, higher tax revenues result. That “tax increment” is then used to refund the costs of public improvements created to support the project and is paid back to the source. In addition to the increment, Dream Design pays the city $23,000 per lot to help with the recovery of the infrastructure costs.
Construction at Sky Ridge will be visible over the next few years. The development’s design includes 178 lots.