Rapid City Chamber of Commerce

Rapid City ranked among best places for business

 – By Rapid City Chamber

Rapid City was ranked 21st out of 184 on the Forbes list of the Best Small Places for Business and Careers, and local business people say they are not surprised.

"I think Rapid City has a fantastic business climate," Bob Fuchs, managing partner for the Firehouse Brewing Co., said Wednesday. "Business is doing well, and Rapid City has an excellent work ethic, and I think that's what brings us to that list."

Forbes measured past and projected job growth, cost of business and living, income growth, educational attainment, projected economic growth, quality of life, college rankings and net migration patterns to determine the list.

Although ranked 21st overall, Rapid City landed the top spot when it came to cost of doing business. Sioux Falls was second.

Al Rieman, president of the Black Hills Harley-Davison, said the Rapid City cost structure for running a business is quite good compared to other areas.

"There was concern with power costs going up last year that we may see higher fees, but when you look at it in its totality, we were just brought up to the national average more," Rieman said. "It's a nice, low-cost area to do business in."

Rieman said businesses in Rapid City do well because they generate revenue not only from local residents but also from surrounding towns and tourists.

"We have a critical mass here as being one of the larger cities in the area that's a focal point in providing the high level of product and services to support the surrounding geography," Rieman said. "We are becoming very strong and vibrant."

According to the Forbes list, Rapid City has a cost of living 10.9 percent below the national average, which means businesses are able to pay employees lower wages because overall it costs less to live in Rapid City.

"It's a known fact that wages are somewhat less than other cities," said Jim Scull, president of J. Scull Construction Services. "But then, people factor in the lower amounts on gas they spend, the traffic they don't have to deal with and other things, and they then realize they can live here on less money and still have a pleasant lifestyle and not want to live anywhere else."

Clancy Kingsbury, who owns Who's Hobby House, said being in business in the Black Hills has advantages.

"There are lots of things to do, and I wanted to raise a family here, and if I can have a business that thrives in this environment, then that makes it even better," he said. "I'm sure I could take my business somewhere else and do well, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."

The Forbes list said the major contributors to the business climate are from health care centers, Ellsworth Air Force Base and financial service providers.

Kingsbury said having other businesses in the area do well enables his business to do well, also.

"A lot of our customers will come in to Rapid because our health centers are so good. They'll be in town receiving treatment and then make a stop at our store," Kingsbury said. "Because other businesses are doing well, it then enables my business to do well because we share the same customers."

"I think we've been doing well, but I think we're poised to do even better in the years ahead," said Benjamin Snow, president of Rapid City Economic Development Partnership. "Timing is good to get exposure and wave the flag, and hopefully, being on this list will attract more businesses to the area."

Sioux Falls has occupied the top spot for the past seven years.

Source: Rapid City Journal

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