A Note from the President: Looking Back on 2023

Dear Rural Shapers,

It’s that time of year when we all hear some version of “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year already!” Maybe you’ve heard it a few times today. Maybe you’ve said it. 

I don’t look at it that way. Instead of measuring how fast the year went by, I like to think about how much. How did we spend our precious time this year? How much of it was on things that matter for rural communities? Where do we want to spend more or less time next year? How can we build habits and systems to make that happen? 

Dakota Resources spent a lot of time designing new ways to help rural communities in 2023. Improving our programs is something we do every year, but this year, we doubled-timed it. And, of course, we couldn’t have done it without some terrific partners who made it happen. Big thanks to First PREMIER Bank, BankWest, Dacotah Bank, Avera, and many more sponsors who continue to believe in a thriving future for rural communities.

Thanks to SD Community Foundation’s support, we rolled out an all-new approach to helping rural economic development boards level up their operation and their impact. Six organizations across South Dakota are currently working through the B.O.L.D. process, and we’ll add 14 more in 2024. 

That’s on top of the community coaching and facilitation work we’ve continued with over 20 communities around South Dakota—thanks to Citi and a lot of local sponsors in each community.

The Thriverr network for rural economic development leaders continued to, well, thrive in 2023. Nope, that double “r” is no typo – Thriverr is a learning experience for rural, by rural. This past year, we rolled out new features like Thriverr Live, and we tested courses and cohorts for Thriverr Learn. 

In January, we’ll make the public launch of a new experience called Thriverr Solo. It will be similar to the networked learning experience we’ve crafted for rural leaders working through their economic development organization, with a more individual focus. In 2024, we’ll also help groups of communities outside of South Dakota plug into the Thriverr network, and we’re excited to add a special 3-day Thriverr Gathering to train economic development leaders in facilitation and coaching.

All of this is possible thanks to our long-time partners, The Bush Foundation and REED Fund. 

We put our RuralX conference on hold in 2023 so we could step back and redesign the experience. I’m happy to announce that RuralX will be back in 2024 — but not in the form of a conference. The all-new RuralX Network will connect the agencies, organizations and foundations that support economic development organizations to help each other help communities better. 

We think this move will make it easier for us resource partners to collaborate better and make communities’ experience accessing resources more clear and smooth. Look for more to come on this in 2024.

That’s not a short list! Still, not every program was in design mode in 2023; some ongoing initiatives marked meaningful achievements and forward progress this year.

We lend money to rural economic development organizations to help them make things happen for their communities. We put money where your ideas are. This year, there were A LOT of ideas. So many, we simply could not keep up. 

While I write this in early December, our Community Development Loan fund has grown by more than 30% in the past year. Economic development organizations in 3 states are making things happen thanks to the commitment of 28 investors who put their money to work through our fund. (See who our investors are here.)

In addition, through our sister company, Dakotas America, we work with investors through the New Markets Tax Credit program to invest dollars in low-income rural communities and Native Nations, supporting equal opportunities in health care, education, community services, and more. We currently work with 13 low-income community projects, such as Lakota Tech High School in Pine Ridge, SD and Kewa Pueblo Health Corporation in Kewa Pueblo, New Mexico.

You can see more about our reach and impact here.

All of this is for and by you. 

We feel good about what’s possible for rural communities through Dakota Resources in 2024. It’s fun to be a conduit of empowering resources. Because nothing we do can happen without the partners who support us, support you, and support rural.

Thank you for your partnership,

Joe Bartmann
President, Dakota Resources

Published On: December 12, 2023Categories: News & Notes

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