Deuel Area Development Inc. working to keep community vital

Duel Area Development Inc.
Farm Forum

To meet the needs for collaborative and integrated community development efforts among the communities of Deuel County, South Dakota, Deuel Area Development Inc. (DADi) was formed in 2008 as a 501c3 non-profit along with the Deuel County Community Foundation. The two organizations worked separately but in collaboration.

DADi’s vision for the future was that Deuel County would be a vibrant place for people to flourish, earn a productive living, appreciate the natural beauty of the rural landscape and value the gift of community. A progressive approach to building community capacity has been instilled. This includes fostering vibrant business sectors throughout the county, offering community-based activities for residents and tourists alike, strengthening the leadership capacity of youth and adults while creating opportunities for people of all ages to call Deuel County home. Ultimately there would be a collaborative “community” that works together to accomplish common goals. Besides a website that crosses over from community to economic development, DADi has worked for several years on community awareness. Since DADi’s beginning in 2008, it has worked hard to coach and assist entrepreneurs. Their tagline is “Your vision; our mission.”

Two grants helped give DADi its mission. These were from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and through those grants a director was hired. Those particular grants helped establish an office offering e-coaching (entrepreneurial) for start-ups as well as focus put on business retention, expansion and transition. Joan Sacrison is a part-time executive director and began her career with DADi in 2011.

In 2014, DADi merged with another Deuel County non-profit corporation. Land was acquired through the merger. With that land, DADi began a housing development: Wildlife Estates. A USDA Rural Economic Development Loan Grant was awarded, and 16 lots and infrastructure were developed, including curb, gutter, asphalt roads, and utilities. Two lots have homes now, and DADi is just finishing building a “Zero Step Spec Home.”

Going out on a limb and developing a spec home that is now for sale, DADi is doing housing development and creating homes for a workforce initiative. This spec home is ideal for a retired couple, young professionals or a starter home with 1,400 square feet, two-car garage, three bedrooms and zero steps. Clear Lake has excellent broadband, a K-12 school system, shopping, a hospital, a clinic, a nursing home and employment opportunities. SD Partners, Inc., formerly DJO Global, hit a low spot in 2014 but is now on the upswing with new positions coming open along with Tech Ord, a munitions factory in Deuel County, and Supreme Welding. Even a local heating/air conditioning business is for sale for some young start-up.

Building capacity in rural communities is vital to keep and welcome individuals to the county. Clear Lake has excellent key factors for those wishing to relocate to rural areas. Deuel Area Development recognizes there are “returnees,” “stayers” and those wishing to relocate to rural communities. DADi’s goal is to be pro-active rather than wait for the sky to fall. This housing development happened with that thought in mind. Young families, senior citizens and young professionals can live and work while being close to larger size communities.

In this year alone, Deuel Area Development has assisted eight individuals wanting to start businesses with free business assistance. Established businesses also gain assistance and expertise when other resources are brought in to address their needs.

Another side of economic development is the DADi Deuel Community Kitchen (DCK) Incubator, a licensed kitchen to help start businesses who have a recipe they want to get off the ground. Through a Rural Business Economic Development Grant this kitchen came to fruition and has been quite a successful program of the USDA grant. Toronto’s Deubrook School System worked with the committee, and the incubator has had a total of six “chefs” sign on to use the kitchen since 2013. With a DADi application, license from the Department of Health, Serv-Safe Certificate, and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Deubrook School System, recipes are being developed. USDA Rural Development from Washington, D.C., has come to visit twice and has promoted DCK as a model for other rural communities.

Some of the businesses that are stars of this USDA incubator are Day of the Dead Salsa, Prairie Coteau Farm, and Little Shire Farm. The whole idea behind the incubator is to test a recipe and for the business to have direction, success and a future. One of the greatest assets of the program is that it is cost effective for entrepreneurs starting a business from their recipe.

Besides the Deuel Community Kitchen, DADi has helped the 4-H Shooting Sports program in the county find a location, brought in outside resources for business lunch ‘n learns, provided workshops for QuickBooks and Excel, and brought in outside speakers on a variety of topics. A vote on an updated school referendum will take place this fall, and several championships have come out of the local gymnastics program.

DADi’s housing efforts with the new spec home and development of business support is vital to keeping the local economy going. It’s their vision to plan for the future of Deuel County and to instill that progressive approach in east central South Dakota.