Wednesday, May 13, 2015

More On His View Of Rapid City's Economy And What He'll Do Regarding It From Mayoral Candidate Steve Allender

RC Mayoral Candidate Steve Allender
(photo from

About the economy:  First, we have to admit we have a problem with the economy before we can address it.  The 2014 data is in, and again Rapid City’s manufacturing sales are down another $9 million from 2013.  The manufacturing sector has been flat, hovering at the $300 million mark for six straight years even with the additions of HF Webster, WL Plastics, and Adams ISC.  Why is it so hard for the Mayor to acknowledge this?  Saying the economy is good, won’t make it good.  The numbers don’t lie.
Most major sectors report growth with the exception of wholesale trade, which took a $24 .3 million nosedive, more than double the decline of $11.4 million the year prior. 
The solution seems clear:  Unclog City Hall.  The permitting process is the most convoluted it has been, perhaps in the history of Rapid City and is gaining a statewide reputation for being so.  You don’t have to take my word for it though – talk to someone who gets permits – the developers and contractors.  They will tell you in no uncertain terms: Rapid City is anti-growth and anti-business.  It’s ironic that the Mayor is touting “streamlining” and the “easy permitting process.”  It’s clear that he is out of touch with the City’s customers and it’s costing us millions.
Once the process is corrected, the City must work with Rapid City Economic Development, the Business Development Center and the Chamber of Commerce to develop an outreach plan to attract prospective businesses, both new and existing. 
Rapid City needs higher paying jobs and we are not going to find them with our heads buried in the sand.  Rapid City’s future is too important to accept economic mediocrity.  We should be leading the State, not following.  
More on issues and my priorities can be found here:

More information about me and the campaign:               

I would be happy to take questions on specific issues.   Email:


  1. I still don't see anything resembling a solution, and only a vague definition of the problem. What - specifically - needs to be done to 'unclog City Hall'? How would you address the current 'convoluted' permitting process?

  2. I made an inquiry on a related thread, but Steve may not have seen my comment, so I'll repeat it here: Sunday's Journal carried an ad which said that Steve had saved the taxpayers millions without cutting vital services. I would like to see some specifics on that, i.e. what services were cut, when were they cut, and how much were the actual savings?

  3. Curt: These are the specific steps to the solution: (1) Identify the problem and agree what the problem is. We will find building codes and regulations unique to Rapid City, excessive fees, excessive wait times during the permitting process and likely a host of other similar issues (2) Build a team of people who can build a plan to counteract these negative business attributes. Clearly, being a mayor, or a mayoral candidate doesn't make one an expert, so we will find the experts. (3) Build a plan to undo what can be undone to bring our process in line with other area permitting processes, and (4) Execute the plan. That's as detailed as I can be at this point. The Mayor won't even admit we have an economic weakness, so my plan is much more detailed than his plan of doing more of the same.

  4. Wayne: In 2008, 2009 and 2010, as overhead costs went up each year, I implemented every program and improvement we had budgeted for those years. Each year, I turned back 8% of the budget or about $1 million. The next year, the PD budget was cut some $800k (meanwhile more overhead). I still turned back money each year through 2013, my final full budget year. I never asked for additional funds. I didn't conduct year-end spending. One specific program was vehicle purchases and service - saved about $180k per year. Another was purchasing a joint City/County records management system which saved a few hundred thousand each year. There were so many small individual savings such as slower rotation of equipment, cancelled software maintenance contracts, bulk purchasing etc. City Finance will have the total amounts I turned back to the City each year, but since I've been campaigning, I have stopped talking to City employees - to not put them in an uncomfortable position. The facts and figures are there, it's just that I don't have access to them right now. No programs were cut, no personnel were laid off, some small programs were absorbed into larger ones, usually resulting in savings.

  5. Mr. Allender asserts that Rapid City’s manufacturing sector has been weak, and that the weakness has persisted for six years—two years before Mayor Kooiker took office. It is true that, because they are “primary” jobs, which export products beyond the city limits and import money, manufacturing jobs provide more stimulus per job than, say, retailing, which basically recycles money already here. Tourism and agriculture also create primary jobs, as they similarly generate cash from sources external to the City.

    Creating manufacturing jobs has been a nationwide challenge, and like the rest of the country, this is a problem Rapid City has not solved. I don’t think for a moment we should give up. I do think a strategy of economic diversification makes sense, and I believe Mayor Kooiker has played an active role in facilitating this. The goal is to be firing on all cylinders, knowing in advance that one cylinder may falter, only to be borne up by the others: retail, professional services, construction and the rest.

    Mr. Allender’s idea of “unclogging city hall,” is a good one, and one that Mayor Kooiker has been working on, with pretty good success, since he took office. This is a continuing process, and there will always be room for further improvement. But “unclogging city hall” has more to do with construction and real estate development than with manufacturing.

    As desirable as streamlined government may be, that is not what will attract manufacturers. Instead, the keys are logistics (about which our options are limited, although a refurbished airport helps), an educated work force, a strong work ethic (Citibank says it came to South Dakota because of liberal usury laws, and stayed because of its terrific workforce), and comparatively attractive (this is a polite way of saying “low”) wages.

    There is plenty of room for higher wages here without discouraging potential manufacturing entities. Otherwise, the educated workforce is about the only thing we can do something about; that falls mostly outside the Mayor’s ambit, but it would be great if the two candidates would jointly support the pending educational opt-out. More than anything else—even an expanded Civic Center—education represents by far our best economic development expenditure.

  6. Chief -
    Your 'view' is still not that clear to me. What 'negative business attributes'? You can claim whatever you want, but please be clear. Can you provide some examples which might substantiate your claims?
    I attended the candidate forum tonight at SDSM&T and heard you tell the audience that the solution will be easy - just look at other places for examples. I believe you said RC employs regulations not used by other communities. Are there examples that might prove your point? What roadblocks do you want to remove from the path of developers? Flood plain regs? Where is this 'red tape' you have referred to? Is it the Zoning Ordinance? I'm sure in your previous career there were occasions when due process of law was inconvenient and cumbersome. Was that just 'red tape'? We all want RC to prosper and improve. What makes you the man to lead us there?