'Community on the Rise' shares ups—and downs

South Dakota State Roundup

Published July 1, 1996  | July 1996 issue

Rural community leaders may wish there were a magic formula to keep their towns alive. So when Tyndall residents offered to share their experience as the state's Community on the Rise, 10 similar communities jumped at the chance to hear Tyndall's story. And requests keep coming.

Tyndall, population 1,200, spent from December 1994 to 1995 in the Community on the Rise rural entrepreneurship program, co-sponsored by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper and the University of South Dakota (USD) Business School. The town, about 25 miles northwest of Yankton, was selected for the intensive small community economic development program from 52 South Dakota communities and four Iowa towns that nominated themselves.

What the Tyndall ambassadors could share with others were some successes and some disappointments. Six new businesses, including a television and video repair shop, a variety store and a computer services firm, were formed. Not all these can be directly attributed to the program, says Dave Sutera, vice president, Security State Bank in Tyndall, but he adds that in general the town's commercial sector was strengthened. Other efforts resulted in an emergency 911 telephone number for the community, a defibrillator for the town ambulance, continuing agribusiness and farm marketing workshops, new school sports and academic boosters clubs, and a community clean-up and tree planting. And, Sutera says, communication between city hall and the community is better.

"We were reminded that we can't please everybody," Sutera says. He admits that the town committees took on too many projects, and two issuesheating the town's swimming pool and establishing a community day care centerfailed to get enough community support and generated hard feelings among some residents. "We took our lumps, but we'd do it over again," Sutera says.

"The Community on the Rise program put Tyndall on the map," Sutera says, adding that, "we couldn't have bought the publicity we got from that program." Perhaps a byproduct of the program: An electric utility repair company, after considering several sites for a new facility, selected Tyndall.

Kathy Cobb