• Reprint courtesy of Deb Holland Meade County Times-Tribune staff. Photo courtesy of Bob Davis.

    April 20, 2016

    Sturgis is seeing unprecedented growth at every turn.

    And those working to stoke the economic development train say this type of growth is nothing short of phenomenal.

    “We don’t sit and wait for things to happen. We are actively out there looking to raise the bar,” said Pat Kurtenbach, president of the Sturgis Economic Development Corp.

    SEDC does this by using its strategies of growing business, developing infrastructure, building partnerships, creating awareness and growing its organization.

    “When I started, we decided as a board that we really needed to have a good plan of what I wanted out of the organization, what the board wanted and what we needed as a community,” she said.

    The past year has been phenomenal, Kurtenbach said.

    Twelve businesses have either opened or expanded in Sturgis during that time. 

    “It’s wonderful, because it is just all around business. It’s not focused into one sector or industry,” Kurtenbach said.

    And those businesses aren’t just showing up in the industrial park as had been the tradition in Sturgis.

    “We’re working hard to make sure we have it spread around the area,” Kurtenbach said.

    Those new and expanded businesses will employ about 130 people, she said. Given the multiplier effect of 1.5, those 130 jobs creates 195 jobs in the community.

    “What that basically means is that for every job that is created other ancillary or secondary jobs are required,” she said.

    Growth within the city of Sturgis for 2015 has been amazing, Kurtenbach said.

    The valuation of construction permits in the city jumped to $13.9 million this year, a 4.65 percent increase over last year. That’s amazing considering that in 2010 the value of construction permits was at just $2.9 million.

    “Since then we have had a little uptick, then a downturn, but now the last two years have Additionally, sales tax growth in Sturgis for 2013-2015 has outpaced both Spearfish and Rapid City, plus the state.

    “It’s not saying we are making more money. It says that we are growing faster than either of our sister communities and the state,” she said. “People now have a reason to spend money in Sturgis.”

    Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said even when the city takes out the rally months for comparison purposes, the city had a nearly 10 percent growth in sales tax in 2015.

    “That goes to show that we are having more tourists throughout the summer season and that is huge for us. We also are seeing larger events throughout the year that are drawing more people,” he said.

    Among those are the annual Sturgis Supermoto, which this year will be televised over the July Fourth weekend.

    “When you have things like that completely fill every single motel room, the restaurants are busy and so are the stores,” Ainslie said.

    To make his point to city council members about out-of-towners shopping in Sturgis, Ainslie took photos of license plates in the parking lot of the local ShopKo Hometown store during the Supermoto weekend.

    “They were from Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota and Minnesota. That’s meaningful economic change,” he said. “If we can make businesses successful here in Sturgis they will reinvest in our community.”

    And when the businesses are paying more in taxes the city is able to use those funds to make improvements in the community, Ainslie said.

    “We’re able to redo things at the community center, at Lion’s Club Park, and on local roads. If our sales tax weren’t increasing we wouldn’t be able to do any of those things,” he said. “We would be back to cutting and saying, ‘how can we save more money.’ Instead we can look into how we can invest and make our community a better place.”

    Ainslie points to 2014 as an exciting year for business on west Main Street. At one point three businesses were under construction – Sturgis Laundry, CBH Corporate offices and Sturgis Indian Motorcycle.

    “There were all three under construction on a side of Main that five years ago no one thought anything was ever going to happen. Now it’s a retail center,” he said.

    Retail success can snowball and lead to more retail success, Ainslie said. And despite what nasayers have said for years, Sturgis may just be righting the ship when it comes to a retail environment.

    “New business brings in jobs, which means more demand for housing and more retail,” he said. “Now everyone, whether it’s the city, SEDC, the chamber are focused on how can we make these lasting improvements so that in 15 years we can look back and say the community is far better off than we ever were before.”