Believe it or not Sioux Falls has more than just cornfields and cows. In fact, Forbes.com recently named Sioux Falls #1 “Best Small Place for Business and Careers.” (Image from forbes.com.) This was the seventh consecutive year Sioux Falls has held the top spot.
Forbes’ annual ranking evaluates communities based on 12 factors including costs of living and business, job growth, income growth, quality of life, and cultural opportunities among others. Sioux Falls has been the only city that has ranked in the top 25 in at least eight of the 12 categories. Also, Sioux Falls posted the largest gross metro product, $10.9 million, of the small cities examined.
No fear to our Silicon Prairie News readers in Omaha and Des Moines, Sioux Falls rules the small city list because it qualifies as a metro area of less than 245,000 citizens. There is no doubt that many of our Silicon Prairie homes boast not only great places to live but to start businesses.
Rather than having the numbers state why Sioux Falls is a great community, I wanted to ask a local business leader who has worked in the corporate and startup world of Sioux Falls business.
Paul Ten Haken is president and chief online strategist of Click Rain, an online marketing agency in Sioux Falls. Before Ten Haken started Click Rain he worked in the Sanford Health system which is the largest employer in Sioux Falls.
I asked Paul a few questions about what makes the Sioux Falls business community so appealing:
Silicon Prairie News: What unique characteristics about Sioux Falls make it such a great place to start a business?
Paul Ten Haken: The tax climate and overall cost of doing business in Sioux Falls make it very easy on the wallet. And as cliché as it sounds, there is also an abundance of really talented people in this market. I am always amazed by the smart and forward-thinking minds here.
(Photo from twitter.com/paultenhaken)
How have you seen the Sioux Falls business community change in the last 10 years?
I think the biggest change I have seen is in the progressive “passing of the torch” among our local business leaders. Sioux Falls has historically been a bit of a boys club with a core set of extremely talented business people as the primary movers and shakers. I’m now seeing a newer – and larger – set of young leaders emerging in the community and they are slowing changing the way Sioux Falls does business, and in a very positive way.
What made you decide to start your business in Sioux Falls?
While I didn’t grow up here, I spent the first eight years of my career cultivating a number of relationships in this market. That made it fairly easy to take the leap. More importantly, Sioux Falls has become home to my family and the thought of setting up shop anywhere else just wasn’t an option.
What advantages does a business like Click Rain have being based in Sioux Falls?
Believe it or not, being located in the Midwest is a real positive when pitching business against bigger firms around the country. There is an inherent can-do attitude among Midwesterners that is well-known around the country – a level of trust that develops quickly based on having Midwest roots. I have seen some organizations abuse that angle, but for the most part, we are a bunch of good ol’ folks from South Dakota and people recognize that.
Where do you see Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls business climate in the next five years?
Sioux Falls is a market that has been built primarily around banking/credit and healthcare. Some recent legislation may change how big of a role the former plays going forward, but I think Sioux Falls will continue to be positioned well as a regional healthcare leader. I see how our local economy has weathered the recession and can’t help but think that if this is a recession, I can’t wait to see where Sioux Falls will be in 2015. We have a very resilient business community.