Sioux Falls, South Dakota — State and local officials, including Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden and Mayor Paul Tenhaken, all smile as they cut the ribbon at a ceremony in the lobby of Amazon’s first fulfillment center in South Dakota on Sunday. was. A square foot complex northwest of downtown Sioux Falls.
The investment from one of the world’s largest companies is a milestone in the city’s and state’s continued growth and business development, but with each announcement, officials warn of an already strained workforce and housing availability. I know the possibilities add extra stress.
“It is very exciting to bring a large business to Sioux Falls. ‘ TenHaken told the Forum News Service after the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour. “And number two, do you have housing?”
Despite the delay announced last summer, the fulfillment center was partially reopened in October to support the holiday season, about two and a half years after plans for the facility were first laid out early in the pandemic. It was opened with a reasonable capacity.
“It was clear that Amazon knew what they were doing,” TenHaken said of the process. “We were trying to get them out of the way, but this thing came together quickly.”
When Roden spoke to lead the procession on the afternoon of January 15, he assembled a gleaming facility as evidence of South Dakota’s rapid economic growth.
“Every time we bring a big new business to our state, it boosts our economy and our financial situation. We can afford to cut the sales tax on groceries,” said Rhoden, drawing laughter from the crowd with an abrupt tackle to his and Gov. Christy Noem’s core campaign pledges. rice field.”
But across the state, this economic growth touted by the Noem government and other leaders is inexorably tied to labor and housing shortages.
Data for 2022 showed that Sioux Falls had issued building permits for 4,834 residential units (a combined stock of single-family homes, multifamily homes and apartment projects). This is a 40% increase from the 2021 record total of 3,024.
Still, around 13,000 people have moved to the city since the beginning of 2021, and that record pace is still far from enough.
“We are still lagging behind in housing,” said TenHaken. “We got a record number of permits last year, but we are still not keeping up with demand.”
Even trillion-dollar behemoths like Amazon are not immune to this problem.
The facility currently employs 350 people and is rapidly ramping that number toward its goal of 1,000 to 1,500 employees, said Scott Seroka, regional public relations manager for Amazon’s South Dakota and upper Midwest. We plan to increase it to
But over the past year, South Dakota’s statewide unemployment numbers have fluctuated seasonally between a low of about 600 and a high of about 2,300.
Seroka said the facility offered new full-time employees a $3,000 sign-on bonus and current employees a $1,000 referral to seek help from this limited pool of workers coveted by businesses across the state. You mentioned that you are offering a bonus.
TenHaken pointed to Senate Bill 41. This is clear legislation to finally put her $200 million into developing housing infrastructure, and is key to helping Sioux Falls (and the rest of the state) meet employer demands.
That bill has already passed the Senate, and supporters of the bill hope it will pass the House and be signed by Governor Noem by the end of January.
“Housing bills need to be passed to help get that money out there and keep building more units,” Tenhaken said.
Beyond staffing concerns, other practical questions were pondered by stakeholders during the ribbon-cutting and subsequent tour of the largely automated process of running the gigantic facility.
“Can we finally get a two-day prime?” Mitchell Senator Josh Crumb, one of five lawmakers in attendance, asked Forum News Service.
The fulfillment center is more like a regional hub for the Midwest than a dedicated point of contact for South Dakota products, but a state foothold means faster deliveries, especially for the eastern part of the state.
Jason Howard is
Reporting to America
Corps reporter writing on state politics in South Dakota.please contact him