Help wanted: workers for Sioux Falls

South Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 1993  | January 1992 issue

With unemployment hovering near 2.6 percent and with 2,000 new jobs created annually over the past five years, Sioux Falls wants to increase its labor pool.

To encourage interest in the city and its jobs, Forward Sioux Falls, the city's economic development arm, placed newspaper ads around the country. For three Sundays in October, ads promoting Sioux Falls were read by job seekers in Toledo, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; Dubuque, Iowa; Casper, Wyo.; and St. Cloud, Minn. "We targeted cities where there's a surplus of workers and where there are similarities in the business environment," says Roger Hainje, president of Forward Sioux Falls.

According to Hainje, the ad campaign was more successful than expected: 500 phone calls were received in the first 48 hours, forcing the group to cancel one Sunday's ads to catch up on responses.

An 800 telephone number allowed respondents to request further information and to indicate their particular job skills or interests. Each interested party was sent a copy of the most recent newspaper want ads and a listing of employment agencies, temporary services and the state's Job Service, with instructions to contact employers or agencies directly. Also included in the package was a tabloid describing the benefits of relocating to Sioux Falls.

Just how many of the 2,000 people who responded to the ads by the end of October will actually move to Sioux Falls remains to be seen. It will be difficult to track how many new hires by area businesses are a result of the ads, Hainje says, but he expects some input from the business community. Hainje adds that several local companies have already requested the list of telephone respondents in order to contact potential employees on their own.

The program, developed by a committee of local businesses' personnel directors, is unique to Sioux Falls, Hainje says. And based on responses to the initial campaign, plans are under way to run ads in other cities. Future ads will focus largely on medical services, meat packing, credit card processing and printing, Hainje says.

Kathy Cobb