Dakota Resources’ Learning Network Honors 2022 Award Winners
At Dakota Resources’ Learning Network Gathering Awards Banquet in Sturgis, SD, held on November 3, 2022, three honorees received distinguished awards in appreciation for their service to their communities. This annual tradition, which takes place at the Entrepreneur Support System Learning Network gathering, allows Dakota Resources to celebrate the innovative work that is happening in rural places across the state.
Like all past award winners, this year’s recipients demonstrate the best of the work that rural shapers do, and the finest of what Dakota Resources seeks to recognize through these awards.
Lake Francis Case Development Corporation honored with Community Innovation Prize
This year’s Community Innovation Prize was awarded to the Lake Francis Case Development Corporation for its creative approach to addressing a housing shortage in Chamberlain, SD. The award is open to communities who’ve partnered with Dakota Resources in the Learning Network or in the Community Coaching programs within the past year. And while housing is far from a unique problem – in fact, the community of Burke won this very award in 2021 for its own housing initiative – Lake Francis’s innovation lies in cultivating ways to offer free residential lots to people hoping to build new homes in Chamberlain.
On behalf of the community of Chamberlain, the Lake Francis Case Development Corporation partnered with the city and other stakeholders in February 2022 to discover how it could make sense to give away residential lots for free as an incentive for anyone looking to build homes in the community. By offering free lots to anyone who’s willing to build, from local residents and newcomers to Chamberlain to contractors alike, this approach helped Lake Francis – and the community as a whole – to make a quick and lasting impact on the housing availability.
To date, 11 lots have been given away, and progress is quite visible in the community. While one new home is currently on the market for sale, other homes feature dug-out basements, poured foundations and framed walls. One such house will be home to a newcomer family, which includes a teacher and a law-enforcement officer working in Chamberlain. In all, this project is on pace to build nine new homes by the fall of 2023.
“The award is excellent recognition for our community; this was a team effort that took a lot of coordination, and I know everybody involved appreciates the recognition from Dakota Resources,” said Chad Pinkleman, economic development professional with the Lake Francis Case Development Corporation. “Dakota Resources is always there to bounce ideas off of and to help facilitate conversations with other leaders. Since many development corporations operate as single-person entities, Dakota Resources connects us and allows us to help each other. It’s true that we all accomplish much more together than we ever could alone.”
In recognition of their contributions, the winning community of Chamberlain was awarded $5,000 in Dakota Resources Community Coaching credit to be used in 2023 to empower their community, however the organization chooses.
Learning Network Mentor Award celebrates Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker
Next, the Learning Network Mentor Award for 2022 was given to Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker, Executive Director of Grant County Development Corporation, in recognition for her support and cheerleading for other economic development professionals. While the Learning Network exists to empower leaders to build connections, gain confidence, support each other, and develop professional skills, there are members within the network that go above and beyond to mentor others, and according to nominator Ashley Geigle, Atyeo-Gortmaker fits that description well.
As Ashley stated in her nomination, Krista, who she met at Ashley’s first Learning Network Gathering in Pierre earlier this year, has been a constant support for Ashley. The two connect regularly to check in on the accomplishments being made in their work, process together how to make progress, and discuss best practices to overcome conflict.
“Krista has so much to offer as a newer economic development professional with her sparky personality, knowledge, and experience,” Geigle said. “She hasn’t let resistance hold her back as she continues to move forward for her community, to make her home a better place for all! To sweeten the deal even more, I know whenever I need a boost or someone to call on, Krista is there.”
In accepting the award, Atyeo-Gortmaker shared how the work of Dakota Resources has helped her to cultivate a thriving rural and a sustainable future, both in Grant County and in collaborating with other economic development professionals.
“I have learned that bringing leaders together for discussion and future planning can only help to motivate growth,” Atyeo-Gortmaker said. “To be nominated by my peers for the Mentor Award means that I am doing my job sharing the knowledge Dakota Resources has bestowed upon me for my community and around the state. This award means that I answer questions, share what I have learned, and provide a listening ear to talk through hard decisions or pitch presentations with my peers around the state. In the end, I just want to do good work for a good cause and leave my own community in a better place than when I got here. I love to be a cheerleader for all the great things happening around South Dakota, and I see my peers in economic development doing great works for great people in their own communities.”
Campbell County Commissioner granted Learning Network Elected Official Award
Finally, the 2022 recipient of the Learning Network Elected Official Award honored Campbell County Commissioner Bob Shadwell, who’s been an ardent and vocal supporter of economic development in the past seven years. Not only was Bob one of the first elected officials who voiced his support for the new Herried Area Housing Development group in 2017, but he also contributed personal investment funds to support the group’s efforts in building new houses.
In his nomination of Commissioner Shadwell, Andrew Van Kuren, Director of the Campbell County Economic Development (CCED), described the value of Bob’s leadership and insight. Like the honorees before him, elected officials like Commissioner Shadwell make decisions every day that impact the future of the communities they serve, and this award honors his ongoing support.
“He routinely takes time to give me feedback and keen insights about county business,” Van Kuren said in his nomination. “Recently, Bob joined our CCED Board to assist in sharing information and making economic decisions for our communities.”
As for Shadwell, he’s appreciative of the recognition and is quick to point to the collaboration that’s imperative to make such projects as these possible.
“This award is really about our community,” Shadwell said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but it takes a group of people to make economic development happen. Small rural communities in South Dakota have a lot working against them, but at the same time, they have a lot to offer, too. Dakota Resources helps small communities be the best they can be.”
TAKE ACTION: Please join us in congratulating this year’s award winners! Please visit our Facebook page to leave a message of congratulations for Lake Francis Case Development Corporation, Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker, and Campbell County Commissioner Bob Shadwell.