This promise specifically involves the role that our lone congressional delegate can and should play in economic development for South Dakota communities: I promise to train each and every member of my congressional staff – 18 individuals – in economic development for South Dakota. There should be few higher or more important priorities for our sole member of Congress than helping our own communities grow and thrive.
As a lifelong rural South Dakotan, I believe that our South Dakota towns and cities remain a good place to raise families. They offer opportunities in school and community that few others enjoy, which is why my wife, Kay and I chose to raise our own family of four sons in Canistota.
But the fact is, our communities face real challenges these days: the ag economy is soft, our small businesses face stiff competition from giant online companies that have unfair tax advantages, and we lack a strong voice in Congress, which seems more interested in taking care of Wall Street than Main Street.
While the challenges rural South Dakota communities face are real, in my travels to well over 100 of our communities during this campaign, I’ve also been reminded of the strong desire of many of them to prosper and grow. These communities display the heart of South Dakota as they find ways to deliver healthcare, sustain businesses, maintain their infrastructure, and improvise to provide needed services through whatever means are available to them. Broadband and its benefits such as telemedicine, telepharmacy, and telecommuting will transform rural America in important and positive ways – but we need to keep our infrastructure strong to take advantage of them.
And yet many of our 311 South Dakota communities lack the knowledge of specific federal programs that are available to cities and towns, a fact that I learned first-hand while serving as a city attorney for several communities.
A key role that our sole representative in DC can play is to promote the vitality and livelihood of South Dakota’s communities, and also aid in the promotion and development of the entrepreneurial spirit in them so that they can continue to serve as great places to raise our families. That’s why my congressional office will serve as a clearing house and a resource for them to access federal programs, to assist entrepreneurial efforts, and work together with the State Office of Economic Development to promote South Dakota communities and their growth.
We’ve got to join in fighting alongside communities all across the state who’ve shown the spirit to not only survive but to thrive over the coming decades. And we’ll do it so they can continue to raise great children who have opportunities to remain within our borders to live, work, and raise families of their own.