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Forward Sioux Falls – Sioux Falls, SD Photo

Forward Sioux Falls – Sioux Falls, SD

Forward Sioux Falls is a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.  Established in 1987, it is a strong public-private partnership that has played a significant role in the community’s growth and success for over three decades.  Forward Sioux Falls’ history of achievement and fundraising success demonstrate the effectiveness of the multi-year strategic initiative approach to funding, executing, and sustaining economic and community development efforts.  In a region of the U.S. where many communities have struggled to grow, the Sioux Falls MSA has seen its population grow by 150,000 (219%) and net non-farm employment increase by 92,800 (238%) since the program started in 1987.  NCDS is proud of its 30-plus year partnership with Forward Sioux Falls. This is truly a best-practice model that other communities should emulate, particularly in their attention to engaging and “training” a succession of business leaders and the variety of “situational specific” strategies and projects that have been delivered to complement core economic development strategies.  A few of these include the development of the Sioux Empire Housing Partnership to solve housing challenges; creation of a technology business incubator; air service support; a convention center; and acquisition of an 820-acre industrial park.  Visit their website for more information on Forward Sioux Falls’ history, programming, and achievements.

How NCDS Helped

NCDS helped develop and “market test” the joint venture model and Forward Sioux Falls initial modest economic development program in 1987.  The first Forward Sioux Falls campaign raised $1.8 million for basic marketing and business attraction efforts for what was then a community of around 100,000.  We have returned every five-years to fund new initiatives which have grown increasingly ambitious and have pursued a wide variety of strategies and agendas ranging from industrial park development to innovation districts to talent attraction and many others.  The 2016 “Momentum” campaign raised $15.5 million (75% private, 25% public).  Cumulatively, seven campaigns have secured over $52 million, with the campaign to fund the 2021-2026 plan to begin in late 2020.

Outcomes / Success

  • Population increase 1987-2020: 219% or 150,000 people 

  • Net non-farm employment increase 1987-2020: 238% (92,800 jobs)

  • Lincoln County: Fastest percentage growth in U.S. in housing units 2000-2003

  • Numerous “best place” rankings:

    • #1 Economy in the U.S. 1992, 1993, 1994 (Money Magazine)

    • Best place to live 1992

    • Top 10 small metro for growing a business (Nation’s Business Magazine)

    • #7 Place for working women (Ladies Home Journal)

    • #3 Best place to start a company (Kiplinger)

    • Top ten metro for economic vitality

  • Funding for ambitious projects, including:

    • New Convention Center

    • 820-acre industrial park

    • Washington Pavilion (Performing Arts Theater)

    • Sioux Empire Housing Partnership

    • South Dakota Technology Business Center – 38,000 square foot incubator with office, lab, light manufacturing

    • USD Discovery District – 80-acre innovation park integrating research, education, and business

    • Sioux Falls Greenway & Riverfront master plan, Good Earth State Park

  • Sioux Falls Tomorrow (long-range community planning process)


Evan Nolte
(Retired) President & CEO, Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

“NCDS has been our fundraising firm of choice since they first helped us devise the Forward Sioux Falls operating model in 1987, and raised $1.8 million to implement it.  Not only is the firm exceptionally skilled at raising money, they also understand the importance of generating buy-in and sustained commitment.  NCDS has helped us exceed goal in seven campaigns, the latest of which has a $15.5 million target, and when the current campaign is completed, NCDS will have helped us raise $53 million to fund our initiatives.  Our top community leaders expect the best from our organization, and the exceptional team at NCDS always works hard to help us exceed those expectations.