Governor's Desk

On my watch, South Dakota open for opportunity

Posted

You’ve heard me say many times that South Dakota never closed. We allowed South Dakotans to make the best decisions for themselves, their families, their businesses, and their communities. But we were unique in this path; other states made different choices. In fact, in some places businesses have been closed for the past six months. How are small business owners supposed to make ends meet in states that have locked down their economies for six months straight?

This isn’t a hypothetical question to me. As a former small business owner, I’ve personally dealt with the struggles of keeping a business afloat. When my dad passed away, I had to take charge of our family’s farming operation. We struggled to balance paying our IRS bill with payroll and all the other expenses that are a regular part of running a small business. If we’d been forced to shut down for six months in the middle of it all, our business would not have made it.

That’s exactly what we’re seeing play out across the country. As a result of extended lockdowns, countless businesses are closing. In July, Yelp announced that more than 72,000 businesses on the site had closed for good since the start of the pandemic, and that was more a month ago. Retailers and restaurants have been hit especially hard.

These businesses are more than just storefronts – they’re people’s livelihoods. They put food on the table, not only for small business owners, but also for their employees. Without businesses to employ these workers, states that have been shut down will struggle to recover even after they reopen.

Here in South Dakota, because we didn’t shut down our state, the recovery story is far stronger. According to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, South Dakota had the fewest low-income job losses of any state in our region, and as of the end of June, we’d already recovered nearly all of those losses. Our weekly initial unemployment claims continue to drop.

Our tourism industry is rebounding strongly as well. South Dakota is the third best state in the country for domestic tourism bookings compared to the start of the pandemic. Interest in visiting South Dakota has surged, meaning we’ll continue to see friendly faces visiting our state in the weeks, months, and years to come.

We’re hearing from lots of folks interested in not only visiting South Dakota, but moving here full-time. If business owners are sick and tired of the lockdowns in other states, I want them to know that they have another option. They can come to South Dakota. We respect our people’s rights, and we won’t shut businesses down. We’re open for opportunity, and on my watch, we always will be.

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