Thursday, April 1, 2010

New development leader adding different spin

Rita Anderson has been the economic development director for De Smet since Jan. 1. Anderson, who had been involved with community development in Colorado, took the job because of how progressive De Smet has always been. During her work in Colorado, Anderson used De Smet as an example of how a small community can thrive.
“The community took a unique historic legacy and developed it into a tourism attraction and now it has really put De Smet on the map,” Anderson said. “We have over 25,000 people from around the world visit us and tour the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites each year.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder continues to draw people to De Smet. “Tourism has increased this year where a lot of places have not,” Anderson said.
Another business, De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Company of South Dakota recently had a $2.5 million expansion. Now there are more than 200 employees.
Then there is the city’s industrial park. Currently, the economic development group will be building a new 10,000 square foot spec building in the business park this spring.
Already, the industrial park has several anchoring tenants including Lyle Signs. The company that makes green interstate signs occupies two buildings and employs 90 people.
Geofurnace, the community’s first green industry, employs 20 people. Geofurnace manufactures geothermal heat pumps.
A custom window manufacturing company, DeSco Architectural employs 32 people. A medical device manufacturer is also part of the fabric of the industrial park. UltiMed employs more than 75 people.
One tenant, C. M. I., Inc, moved from the industrial park to a larger building on the north side of town. Currently, there are two or three open spaces in the industrial park.
Legend Seeds, another large local business which has customers in a 4 – state region, has 46 employees.
“We have a good mixture of businesses,” Anderson said. “All over with small towns you have to have an active economic development to keep a community going. We have been fortunate to be able to concentrate on expanding rather than worry about maintaining. We feel good about the future. The residents and businesses of DeSmet are very progressive and forward thinking.”

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