Sturgis reaping the fruits of their labor

STURGIS (4.10.2018) — Ten years ago, residents of Sturgis, business owners and city officials gathered at a town-hall meeting to talk about a plan for their community’s future. Sturgis Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) President Pat Kurtenbach remembers that as a watershed moment for Sturgis.

The Future Sturgis Initiative, funded in part by SEDC, defined a grass-roots movement charged with identifying areas of improvement to enhance Sturgis’ live-ability index. Its recommendations were incorporated into the Sturgis Comprehensive Plan and today form the platform for many of the city’s business- and growth-friendly decisions.

Speaking at SEDC’s annual board meeting Tuesday, Kurtenbach said many of those in attendance were involved in the Future Sturgis Initiative. “It’s hard to believe that it has only been 10 years and to look at the changes that have happened in that time is incredible,” she said.

At the time of the town-hall meeting, residents said they wanted more and better amenities for their community. “Those listening session turned into action. That action led to change, and the change led to where we are today. I see us as a pacesetter,” she said.

Kurtenbach said she recently visited Hot Springs at their economic development annual meeting when a speaker made reference to the Future Sturgis Initiative.

“They are going through a Future Sturgis at the moment,” she said. “They are trying to identify who they want to be when they grow up. They know about what steps we have taken over the past 10 years.”

People in the region look to what has happened in Sturgis as an example of what can happen economically when a community does strategic planning and forges partnerships, Kurtenbach said.

Scott Stern, the commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, agreed and said Sturgis has been a shining example of a community that controlled its own destiny.

He also lauded the efforts of Kurtenbach for the community’s economic development success.

“You guys don’t know what a gem you have,” he said. “She works tirelessly not just for your community, but she has worked very hard to make this state a better place.”

Stern said it requires very vigorous and strategic activity to succeed in economic development. “Economic development does not happen on its own. It just doesn’t show up someday,” said Stern, the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s meeting.

At the state level, the GOED office has doubled its community development representation in the past year. “We felt it was very important to be more closely connected with our communities,” Stern said. “If we don’t understand what is going on in a community we can’t help them and vice versa.” And it’s that collaboration that is key to success in economic development in South Dakota, Stern said.

Reprinted courtesy of Deb Holland, Black Hills Pioneer

Students learn from reverse career day

STURGIS (3/27/2018)— Now in its sixth year, the reverse career day is a chance for Sturgis Brown High School students to learn first-hand about modern manufacturing processes. The program takes place at the Sturgis Industrial Park, which hosts several businesses that depend on machinists. Following the first reverse career day, the Meade School District realized there was a need for skilled machinists. Chad Hedderman, who at the time was the SBHS welding teacher and now is assistant principal at SBHS, said that every business they visited that first year had a computer operated mill or lathe-making parts. “They told us they couldn’t find workers to run them, even though the starting wage was $20-25 per hour,” he said.

The school district applied for and received a $90,000 economic development grant and also an additional $100,000 grant from the state through its Future Fund to purchase equipment. The Sturgis Economic Development Corporation also received a $99,999 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development that helped with the construction costs associated with building a facility in the industrial park. It now houses the high school machining class.

This year, 30 students, five faculty, and two school board members participated in the reverse career day. They learned about the machining process including software programming, CNC programming, and product development. Participants also learned about the coursework required for entry-level success, aptitude, and skill sets necessary to be successful.

Bar-Sto Precision Machine was one of the businesses on the tour, which owner Irv Stone brought to Sturgis eight years ago. The family-owned and operated business manufacturers pistol barrels and also does custom gun building. “We strive to provide the very best and most consistent product on the market,” he told the students.

Stone whole-heartedly supports the reverse career day program and has hired three Sturgis Brown High School students who have come through the machining program. “The benefit of this program is we get to keep the kids here where they can start their career, maybe raise a family, and stay local,” Stone said.

Sturgis Economic Development Corporation President Pat Kurtenbach refers to that practice as “growing our own.” “Here in the industrial park, we are able to train our own future workforce in basic machine tool technology to get them a faster start into the workforce once they graduate from high school,” Kurtenbach said. She said metal-related manufacturing is a large part of Sturgis’s industrial sector and is a huge contributor to the local economy each year.

Student Danae Woods said she was interested in manufacturing because although she wants to be a teacher, she plans to do welding in the summer months. Student Samantha Reicher said machining is part of her family’s heritage. “My dad has been building guns since he was little. I think it’s cool. I find it interesting,” she said.

Reprint courtesy of Deb Holland, Black Hills Pioneer 

Sturgis Touts Development Opportunities

STURGIS (3.2.2018) — No pompoms or hometown pennants were waved, but a gathering to promote economic opportunities in Sturgis Tuesday had the feel of an old-time pep rally.

City Manager Daniel Ainslie and Sturgis Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Director Pat Kurtenbach served as cheerleaders, giving an overview of past development successes and opportunities ripe for the picking.

“We’re getting the word out to let people know what we need,” Kurtenbach said. “It also helps people to understand where we have been and where we are headed.”

After the results of a housing study back in 2014 showed the need for all types of housing in Sturgis, the city and SEDC sought out developers to come build homes. “We had three developers come in who have added $35 million in construction following that,” Kurtenbach said.

Invites for Tuesday’s event were sent to contractors who are registered in Meade County as well as to larger construction contractors from Spearfish and Rapid City. Kurtenbach said she was pleased with the turnout and hopes it will result in some follow-up calls from contractors.

“Until we sit down at the table and talk to developers about what their plans are and what we are able to offer them, we won’t know what’s possible,” she said.

The meeting was a way of putting the hook in the water, Kurtenbach said. “It was our way of saying, ‘Take a look at us,’” she said.

Among those in attendance were Bradley Kurtz, president of Dean Kurtz Construction of Rapid City, along with Stephen Burgess, the company’s vice president of operations. Kurtz said he found the information presented valuable. “It’s a little bit surprising at how aggressive they are getting, including providing incentives to get things going here,” he said.

Sturgis currently has about 240 acres of varying sized properties available for sale for both commercial and residential development, Ainslie said. Some measure only a quarter acre on land adjacent Junction Avenue to 30 acres on either side Lazelle Street near Interstate 90’s Exit 30.

Among incentives offered to developers is Meade County’s 100 percent, five-year property tax abatement on commercial construction and on four-plex and larger housing. Ainslie said the city also works to expedite its permitting process for developers along with offering tax increment finance districts.

“If you have specifics for a project, especially commercial, we would be happy to look at how we can assist you,” Ainslie said. “We don’t just have a package that we provide everyone. We want to meet with you to see what your needs are and how we might be able to fulfill those.”

For a copy of the complete presentation and available properties, click here.

Reprint courtesy of Deb Holland, BH Pioneer

Rushmore Region Economic Development Alliance Plans Workshops


RAPID CITY (3.5.2018) | Elected officials, local leaders and economic development professionals will gather in two Black Hills towns April 4-5, to learn more about attracting new businesses to their communities.

Hosted by the Rushmore Region Economic Development Alliance, the workshops titled, “Preparing Today for Tomorrow’s Growth,” will allow elected officials, local community leaders, and economic developers to gauge their preparedness to respond to businesses looking to relocate and to better understand what those businesses are seeking, said Rushmore Region Chair Pat Kurtenbach of Sturgis.

“We’re bringing in nationally recognized professional business consultant Janet Ady of Ady Advantage to provide an insider’s perspective in the site selection process,” Kurtenbach said. “This is an opportunity for all of our communities to grade ourselves, understand our capacities, and better position us to attract businesses to the Rushmore Region.”

The free half-day sessions are set for April 4 in Hot Springs and April 5 in Spearfish, Kurtenbach said. They will allow participants to gain an insider’s perspective of what businesses look for when they consider choosing a new location, understand site-selection mega-trends, explore special considerations for economic development in our region, and learn how to market to site selectors, she noted.

Ady Advantage, a Madison, Wis.-based economic development and marketing consulting firm, has worked with dozens of communities and companies throughout the U.S. to identify “best-practices” and help its clients position themselves for growth, Kurtenbach said. 

For more information, or to register, go online at

SEDC Newsletter

STURGIS, SD 11.30.2017


Please join the SEDC Board of Directors in welcoming Just for Looks and Richter’s Tire & Exhaust as new SEDC investors.


The SEDC Board of Directors thanks the Meade County Commissioners for re-affirming the County’s current discretionary formula. In place since 2010, it provides 5-year, 100% tax abatement on new commercial construction, including residential 4-plexes and larger. During nearly two hours of testimony on Nov. 8, the Commission heard directly from Scott Peterson Motors, Rasmussen Mechanical and Jake’s Garage about the importance of this economic incentive in their decision to expand or relocate in Meade County. Others such as Indian Motorcycle Sturgis, Landsport, Belle Joli and Sierra Vista sent letters of support outlining the significance of the program to their business. SEDC, officials from the cities of Sturgis and Summerset, and the Meade County Equalization Office also addressed the Commission. This discretionary formula is an important tool for us to have in our economic development toolbox and the County is an important partner. Thank you!


Another important Thank You goes out to all community volunteers  – individuals and businesses – who supported the fund drive to purchase holiday decorations for the new Sturgis Main Street. Through the “Christmas in July” campaign during Music on Main and August’s Community Picnic, the Downtown Sturgis Foundation was able to outfit over 30 street lights with traditional garland, wreaths and sparkling lights. Special thanks to Black Hills Energy and the City of Sturgis for their generous contributions and excellent installation.

The City of Sturgis and the Downtown Sturgis Foundation are working on projects that will continue to improve the Main Street corridor. In 2018, events at the H-D Plaza should be more comfortable with the addition of shade panels. The first in a series of permanent public artwork will be installed in front of Wells Fargo Bank.


SEDC continues to work the retail prospects we met through Buxton during the retail trade show in May. As recently as October, the City and SEDC hosted site tours with national retail affiliates. Courting national retailers can be a long process. For example, Dollar General first toured Sturgis in 2012. They opened on Lazelle in 2017, a full five years later.

Maverik removed their “Opening 2018” sign from their Junction Ave/Anna St. lot. They notified the City they would not be proceeding with new construction at this time, intending to slow the current growth of new store openings.  



SEDC welcomes The Moving Guys to the incubator building at 1110 Industry Road. Owner Chad Moyers and his 6-person crew moved in in October. The 3,360 sq. ft. unit gives Chad the ability to consolidate his office and various storage areas into one. He can now grow his retail business to include all types of moving supplies, such as boxes, tape, packing products, etc. For large or small, local or long haul moves, contact The Moving Guys at (605) 877-2258. 

A new 9,600 sq. ft. spec building in the Sturgis Industrial Park is ready to be finished for a tenant or owner. With the foundation, roof and walls in place, the rest can be customized for any type of manufacturing application. Contact SEDC for more info.


Dolan Creek Estates’ Phase I is nearly sold out, with less than five houses and five lots available. Phase II infrastructure is now complete and four houses are already under construction. Dolan Creek member Brad Hammerbeck says these 58 new lots will offer    more diversity and views. Local developers are encouraged. For more info, contact Brad at  381-4577 or

Sierra Vista on Ball Park Road in Sturgis has a nice selection of apartments available: 

  • 2 bed / 1 bath
  • 2 bed / 2 bath
  • 3 bed / 1 bath
  • 4 bed / 2 bath  

Sierra Vista is a great low maintenance, economical housing option. The landlord pays for water, sewer and garbage. Snow removal and lawn care are also included. Tenants don’t need to worry about maintenance and repairs, just call the landlord. The units are quiet, comfortable, and new! They also offer great views with easy access to I-90. Contact Help-U-Rent at 722-7368 or click

Wildflower Townhomes. Plans on this 12-unit, ground level residential development are being finalized and groundbreaking should start very soon, depending on the weather. Located on the site of the former Francis Case elementary school, the project will include three 4-unit townhomes, each with 2-bedrooms, a 1-car attached garage and off-street parking for two vehicles. Available as lease only, tenants will enjoy carefree living with maintenance such as lawn care and snow removal included in the lease. For more info, or to get on the waiting list, contact SEDC or owners Tim & Peggy Heuston at 361-563-2522,


Congratulations to the Jackson family and Belle Joli Winery for their role in christening the USS South Dakota submarine. Their 2013 Estate Reserve, bottled and processed at their Belle Joli Sparkling Wine House in Sturgis, was chosen for the christening ceremony. This honor comes only three years after opening their Sturgis production facility, the first such operation in the state. Belle Joli’s sparkling wine is a 100% South Dakota-made product using grapes grown in their Belle Fourche vineyard and made in Sturgis using champagne methods. The USS South Dakota is an attack submarine and the first underwater vessel to bear the state’s name.

Congratulations to Jamey and Amber Nehring, owners of Renatus Woodworks, on their recent selection as a 2018 Dakota Rising Fellow. This $10,000 grant award will allow the Nehrings to continue to invest in their business and personal growth. Renatus uses reclaimed materials like barn wood to create furniture, decor items and picture frames. They also do furniture upholstery, fence and deck staining, new construction and remodel work. Visit Renatus’ showroom at 708 Main Street, Sturgis or or

About Dakota Rising: Dakota Rising is a free 3-year entrepreneurial development program designed to provide rural start-ups with tools, resources and connections to help them reach their greatest potential. In return, the Fellows use that potential to impact rural economic and community development.

Other recent local Dakota Rising Fellows are:  Chad Gollnick/Iron Outfitter (Black Hawk) and Jenni Tucker/Help-U-Rent (Sturgis).

For more info, visit 

Sturgis Receives “Excellence in Economic Development” Award from International Economic Development Council

STURGIS, SD (9.20.17) – The City of Sturgis won a Gold ‘Excellence in Economic Development’ Award for its Winter Storm Atlas Recovery & Catalyst of Growth Campaign, a project in the category of Multi Year Economic Development of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 19, during the IEDC Annual Conference, held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations to the City of Sturgis. Not only did they work to provide a necessary service to their community; but also, their participation in the awards program sheds light on their stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark.” – Michael Langley, IEDC Board Chair.

Throughout Oct. 3-5, 2013, Sturgis and the surrounding Black Hills region experienced Winter Storm Atlas. The storm began with a large heavy rainfall and developed into up to 4’ of heavy wet snow being dumped on the community. The immediate aftermath saw hundreds of thousands of cattle killed, dozens of buildings partially or completely collapsed and weeks of snow plowing and debris removal.  

During this recovery period, the City of Sturgis partnered with the not-for-profit Sturgis Economic Development Corp (SEDC) to ensure that every affected business was able to temporarily relocate and eventually rebuild. The reconstruction effort led to significant expansions and no fewer than six new retailers opening in the rural community. This significant expansion caught the attention of the local media, which in turn helped to catalyze more residential, commercial and industrial expansions. In the time following the Presidentially-declared disaster, the community has continued to see the largest economic expansion in its history with sustainable growth in all sectors.  

“The awards process is a thorough, non-biased and multi-layered process. These are extraordinary accomplishments for all winners, and an overall great effort by all participants. We look forward to next year’s awards competition,” Langley said.

Reprinted courtesy of the City of Sturgis

Wildflower Townhomes Coming to Sturgis

STURGIS, SD (8/1/2017) –Wildflower Townhomes, a 15-unit residential community, is coming to Sturgis. Located on two acres surrounding the former Francis Case elementary school, it is designed for people of any age who want carefree, ground level living.

Owners/developers Tim and Peggy Heuston will host an informal public “Meet and Greet” on Friday, August 18th, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, at the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce. They encourage potential tenants and anyone interested in looking at the plans, including those in the construction trades, to stop by to learn more about this exciting residential community. Construction plans will be finalized over the winter, with groundbreaking for the first townhomes in Spring 2018.

The 2-bedroom leased townhomes will have attached garages with off-street parking and include lawn care, snow removal and external building maintenance.

The Heuston’ state, “We are so excited for this opportunity to return to South Dakota and the beautiful Black Hills. Sturgis is a progressive, unique city in such a pretty setting. The City and SEDC have been very encouraging, and we really appreciate the warm welcome. One of the best experiences of our lives was building a similar development in Pierre. We are confident that Wildflower Townhomes will offer Sturgis another quality housing choice, and we look forward to putting names with faces at the “Meet and Greet”.

Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie adds, “Council has considered several housing options for this site. We are pleased to welcome the Heuston’s and their experience with this type of residential housing. In addition to filling a niche in our growing community, its design and the Heuston’s professional management will complement the neighborhood aesthetics.”

SEDC President Pat Kurtenbach states, “Wildflower Townhomes is an exciting development for Sturgis residents. We are fortunate to have the Heuston’s bring us their proven housing concept. We thank them for their investment in the community, and welcome a spring groundbreaking.”

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Governor lauds Sturgis efforts to be a year-round destination

Sturgis, SD – 6.6.17  Gov. Daugaard says he enjoys the Capital for a Day program because it gets him out of his office to meet people where they live and hear about their challenges and celebrate their successes.

People around the nation talked about how Washington, D.C. can be like an island. Daugaard said Pierre can be like that also being isolated from the rest of the state.

“It’s good for me to get out of Pierre and get into places like Sturgis so I can see what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t want state government to be isolated from South Dakotans, or independent of the people.”

Daugaard said Sturgis has a lot going for it and has always been known to think big.

He was thoroughly impressed by the new Sturgis Main Street during a walk Tuesday morning with Sturgis Public Works Director Rick Bush.

“Wow! What a beautiful Main Street,” he said. “Between all the infrastructure you can’t see and the street, sidewalk, lighting and bumpouts with the plantings you can see, it’s just spectacular. Sturgis is on the cutting edge. The rallygoers will see a better street and a smoother and easier ride down Main this year. They’re gonna love it.”

Daugaard characterized Sturgis as a community responsible for making its own future.

“Many communities of this size would wait for business opportunities to come their way, but Sturgis is more proactive than most,” he said. “Economic development is something you must do intentionally. You have a vibrant economic development corporation here.”

Daugaard said communities can’t wait for businesses to need a location, communities need to provide that location so that when businesses are looking, proactive communities are in the running.

“Sturgis does that,” the governor said.

Daugaard also lauded the Meade School District for its commitment to career and technical education or CTE.

“Because the firearms industry is very active in Sturgis, the school system has a machinist program with up-to-date modern equipment. I know that because I gave a grant to help buy it,” he said.

The Sturgis motorcycle rally is what draws people to Sturgis and the entire state from all over the world. And Sturgis is learning to leverage their hospitality to other events year-round, the governor said.

Daugaard gave as an example the pavilion at The Knuckle Saloon which serves thousands of bikers during the annual motorcycle rally, but also uses the venue for a bull-riding event during the summer when rodeo fans are in town for the Southwest Regional High School rodeo.

“That just shows you take your assets and don’t just rely on them for the obvious – like the rally – but use them in other ways to create more interest in Sturgis,” he said.

Daugaard was excited to visit the Sturgis Watershed area during his visit Tuesday and said opening that area to visitation is just another example of Sturgis using its assets to the fullest.

“The city has been very active in making the decision to open up that area formally to the public. The welcome mat is being rolled out and this government-owned asset is being made available to the people,” he said.

Whether it remains a city-owned asset open to the public or becomes a state-owned asset is open for discussion, the governor said.

Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said the city and state have collaborated on several projects in recent years and the city was proud to be able to showcase those efforts during Daugaard’s visit to the city Tuesday.

“As we tour businesses in the downtown corridor and in the industrial park, we are truly grateful for the support we have received from state agencies,” Carstensen said.

A noon luncheon Tuesday, dubbed a Community Leader Roundtable, was a time for discussing new ideas and to set new goals that will help not only the community of Sturgis, but also the state to continue to thrive and grow into the future, the mayor said.

Excerpts reprinted courtesy of Deb Holland, Meade County Times-Tribune