A City of Great Promise, Great Progress
Like many young couples, when my wife, Jill, and I moved to Sioux Falls more than 21 years ago, we were drawn to the community’s incredible quality of life. We loved that we could have the best of both worlds and live in a midsize city with the community feel of a small town. We also saw fantastic career opportunities and appreciated the Midwest values and great people here. Since then, it’s continued to be an amazing place to raise our three children.
While our population has grown since Jill and I first moved here, the essential ingredients of what makes Sioux Falls great have not changed. As we welcome new residents, businesses, and developments to our community, we also continue working to keep Sioux Falls the kind of community that attracted us—and so many others—to make their home here. In 2022, my administration continues to focus on proactively managing both the opportunities and related challenges that come with our community’s growth.
I’ve talked about how the year ahead will be one of managing that growth. We have the right framework and priorities in place to continue to chart our course forward as a community, even as we face challenges in areas like housing, workforce, child care, and infrastructure funding. Our decisions today continue to be guided by the One Sioux Falls framework to address our community’s most pressing needs in the areas of safety and health, accessible housing, workforce, engaging people, foundational growth, and innovation. Let me offer a few observations for areas of continued focus in 2022 within the One Sioux Falls framework as we meet the challenges and opportunities that come with progress.
Our city’s record growth brings with it urgent workforce and housing needs. While it’s critical that we stay focused on addressing those concerns, let’s not lose sight that we have these challenges in part because we have a city of record opportunity right now. For workers, that means the availability of many employment opportunities. We also recognize the challenges that employers are facing due to a tight labor market across industries in Sioux Falls; these are challenges being felt across the nation. The City of Sioux Falls is not immune to workforce challenges, and we are working on recruitment and retention initiatives for employees. We’ll continue working together to address workforce concerns and to do what’s best for our community.
Partnerships and Collaborations to Address Housing Needs:
I recently heard from several developers in Sioux Falls who spoke to their heightened occupancy levels at their multifamily units; they are at unhealthy levels for a community our size. Across the board, housing is one of the pressing challenges right now in our community. There’s no silver bullet for this issue, and it continues to require a multifaceted approach.
Our 2026 Housing Action Plan serves as a framework to help solve today’s challenges, with focus areas on land, workforce, public incentives and partnerships, design and building standards, and infrastructure. In 2022, we will continue to implement this plan, with an emphasis on land assembly for house moving. We have formed many great partnerships and collaborations across the community and the state to move the needle on housing, but there’s still much work to be done to address this issue. We must continue to work together to address our community’s housing challenges.
Innovation and Foundational Growth:
Keeping pace with a growing city means continued investments in our roadway network, and residents will see that reflected in roadway projects this year. Notable projects include reconstruction of the interchange at 41st Street and Interstate 29, along with reconstruction of Phillips Avenue downtown from Eighth to Tenth Streets, and work on the Minnesota Avenue corridor. Later this spring, we will break ground on the expansion of the City’s wastewater system and treatment facility, a key project that will allow us to continue serving our growing population in the decades ahead.
I often talk about how a city’s downtown is the heartbeat of a community. When our downtown thrives, it benefits our entire community. This year we will be mapping out the 2035 Downtown Plan to position downtown to continue thriving over the next decade. We also have an important opportunity to chart the course for the coming years in building a more sustainable city. Sioux Falls has been a leader in our region in sustainability for more than a decade, and the Sustainability and Climate Action plan sets us up to continue that endeavor with a focus on climate action, reducing emissions, and enhancing sustainability to improve quality of life for Sioux Falls’ residents today and for future generations.
I am often asked if Sioux Falls is still a safe community, and the answer continues to be “yes.” Despite our growth in population, our crime rate has maintained a low rate, especially when compared to larger cities. Fortunately, we actually saw a decrease in violent crime in 2021 compared to 2020, when cities across the U.S., including Sioux Falls, saw spikes in crime. Sioux Falls remains a safe community, and our public safety teams are committed to keeping it that way.
Support for our public safety personnel from the community and our elected officials remains strong. This was clear with the unanimous City Council approval of bonding for a new public safety center in 2020 and continued support for this project. We broke ground on the public safety campus and new 911 dispatch center in November 2021 that will equip our public safety teams to train at an even higher capacity. In 2022, we’re also refining our process to recruit and retain the best individuals to serve on our public safety teams, including a new hiring incentive package within the Sioux Falls Police Department.
I continue to be inspired by our community’s youth and their desire to make a positive impact. I’ve seen that directly through my interactions with the inaugural Mayor’s Youth Council. This group of dedicated, community-minded young people is concerned about challenging issues like mental health and youth violence, and they are making a difference in our community today. We need to continue to provide opportunities for our youth to lend a voice on topics in our community that matter.
I also continue to see opportunity for more mentors in Sioux Falls. When I started the Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative in January 2020, I saw the potential for mentorship to transform a community, and the need for mentorship has only become more amplified since then. I encourage you to get involved at sioux52.org.
What has kept our family—and so many people—in Sioux Falls as the community has grown are the incredible people and hearts in this city. It is an honor of a lifetime to lead during this time as we work together to continue making Sioux Falls a city of great promise and great progress.