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State workforce plan to shed new light on South Dakota’s image

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. – After months of research and planning, the state officially launched its workforce development campaign at the Governor’s Economic Development conference held last week in Sioux Falls.   


“We knew we needed to get some solid research done to understand what it’s going to take to attract people to South Dakota and what the messaging needed to be,” said Pat Costello, Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).


“The findings?  People lack salient images of South Dakota and therefore think we lack development and a forward economy,” Costello said. “They don’t picture themselves being able to live in South Dakota because they don’t know enough about us.”


That’s where the state’s new marketing effort comes into play.  Simply put, the theme of the campaign is “South Dakota:  You can live here.”  “We have to tell people that in South Dakota you can really live. Not just physically live here, but really live in terms of building a career, creating a home, starting a family and becoming an active member of the community,” Costello said.


“Our goal is to build brand awareness of South Dakota not just as home to Mt. Rushmore, but as home to thriving industries, job growth opportunities, recreational opportunities and more. In other words, we need to show people they could have a great life in South Dakota,” Costello added.


One way the state will do this is by creating web videos showcasing individuals who recently moved to South Dakota for job opportunities. “These are unscripted videos so we think the message will really resonate with those individuals ages 25-44, which is the age demographic we are targeting,” Costello noted. The first such video is available for preview at


But in a world saturated with marketing messages, the state knew it needed a hook to get people to the site.  “We need to generate buzz about our state and what better way than to tap into trending topics that are already getting national play,” Costello said. 

So what’s the first trending topic the state will use to drive people to the website?  A world-wide contest for a slot to participate in the colonization of Mars.  “We think Mars has what South Dakota wants - thousands of people lining up to live there,” Costello said.  “So we decided to have a little fun with it.” The first trending promotional video can be previewed at



From television commercials to banner ads to social media banter, the state plans to use this trending topic to drive people to a new site highlighting South Dakota’s job opportunities and lifestyle.  “We think the Mars thing is the right one for now,” Costello said. “Once this runs its course, we’ll hitch our wagon to the next one.”


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A Half-Century of Serving South Dakotans

For more than half a century, the three nonprofit organizations comprising GROW South Dakota have fulfilled a vision of “GROWing sustainable communities through housing, community and economic development.” In 1966 the Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program (NESDCAP) was established as a Community Action Agency in the War on Poverty and has served thousands in 17 counties with emergency services as well as various housing programs.

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GROW South Dakota

GROW South Dakota
104 Ash Street East | Sisseton, SD  57262
Phone (605) 698-7654 | Fax (605) 698-3038