Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rapid City, Do We Just Sloganize About Doing Big Things Or Can We Really "Do Big Things?" Dennis Halterman Has An Amazing Vision:

I'm moving an exchange between Dennis Halterman and Cory Heidelberger up here where I can give Dennis' thinking a headline:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dennis HaltermanNovember 28, 2014 at 7:34 AM
"We simply don’t capitalize on this. What do you think this city would look like for our children and grandchildren if we bonded $180 million in tax dollars over the next 30 years to help create and maintain a relevant, high tech, economic base?"

"Dennis, what can the city do with $180M in bonds to create more engineering jobs?"

"We do it by switching the paradigm of how we see money move in our local economy. We start with the realization that we can get jobs for low skilled, low paid workers, but what we really want is high skilled, high paid workers.

The true profit engine of our economy today is knowledge. Companies are not hiring Mines graduates because of what they can make, they are hiring them because of what they know. The intellectual propriety of the patents they create and help create is where the real value is, particularly in, but not limited to, IT. This isn’t generally obvious because the value of intellectual property doesn’t show up on Profit and Loss statements and so sometimes we will see a company pay billions of dollars for another (typically a start-up) that has never made a profit. The purchaser is buying patents the not profitable company has developed and owns.

So, instead of spending money to build a new civic center, which is just a building that designed to create profits in Rapid City, we take that money and use it to specifically design and create a corridor designed around the School of Mines, it’s knowledge, and it’s product: young people with engineering degrees who have that knowledge. There is very little actual need to ship them to other places as they will never actually build something, they will use their knowledge of highly advanced and technical engineering to design things that will be build at remote locations (often China). They will sit in offices. We can build offices here.

A place to start would be a building that is absolutely state of the art in things such as teleconferencing. At the same time we contact the companies that typically hire the graduates, tell them our plan, and provide an economic incentive for them to satellite operations here, for instance a lower starting salary, which we make up to the graduates by refinancing their student loans at a decent interest rate (say 1%), or simply paying some of them off as they stay here (which many, many want to). Everyone starts to win.

With the Civic Center we are talking about spending $300 million dollars over the next 30 years. That is an enormous amount of money we could use in outside of the box thinking that could actually elevate our local economy dramatically in a few short years (imagine Rapid City filled with Twenty-Somethings earning an average starting salary of about $50,000)."


  1. So these companies that currently hire Mines graduates and have their offices somewhere other than Rapid City: did their current host cities build their offices for them? Did their current host cities facilitate lower salaries for new hires through student loan refinancing or forgiveness? Why is it not enough for Rapid City boosters to walk up to these employers, show them the available brain pool from Mines, show them pictures of the beautiful Black Hills, and say, "Move here"?

  2. John, this is the exact kind of forward thinking we need out here. Problem is, our city council, county commissioners and powers to be are to busy trying to keep up with Sioux Falls to consider this. There is no doubt something needs to be done with the Civic Center, but I have to be honest, that $300 million price tag is to high for a community the size of ours and I won't support it at the ballot box. However, if they was to come up with a plan that would incorporate ideas like this along with a more modest Civic Center upgrade I could get behind that. But, I'm sure those powers to be could care less what I think.

  3. I think Mr. Halterman's plan is laudable. Putting more money into the civic center seems like a very static, unimaginative action.

    Numerous studies and decades of SD history have shown that it's not only money and facilities that matter. SD needs to jettison the far right social conservatism that millennials find unattractive. What steps can Rapid City take to show an openness to a young and talented generation?

  4. John, while I appreciate your thought that this may be my “amazing vision,” I would suggest that it is probably less of that, and more me simply stating out loud what we are all thinking. My impetus to express it is the CVB’s new “Do Big Things” slogan - which I find powerful. I think you stated it best of all: is this just going to be a catchy slogan we have, or are we going to put it into action? I say we put it into action.

    Monday night the Council will discuss spending a lot of money to build a new Civic Center, and everyone who speaks will have an observation with some degree of validity as we are predicting the future. The question is, though, is building a new Civic Center a “Big Thing” for our future in the manner the slogan is presented? It has a big price tag, but I don’t think that alone fulfils the intent of the slogan. What if we were spending equal time and resources talking about a plan somewhere along the lines of my initial comment? What result do we really want to achieve for Rapid City on our watch, and will a new Civic Center achieve it? I don’t really think so. It will likely maintain a status quo, but that‘s not what we really want, and should not be our goal. I think we want to create a path for prosperity for everyone, and believe we can achieve it, but in order to do so we need to dramatically change up our paradigms of thinking. What we think now will become our reality of tomorrow. Simply put, we can do this, we just need to do this.

    John, you have a very powerful and well respected voice in our community. Perhaps you could continue to use that voice to help us elevate our expectations of what we see as big things for our community?

  5. It is only a matter of time before the young people begin start-ups in RC, as intellectual property can be available globally. How about funding a business "incubator" where small companies and start-ups can share resources: