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.
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.”
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.