Our Rural Way of Life
By: Governor Kristi Noem
September 23, 2022
When I first ran for Governor, South Dakota needed new opportunities. For years, our economic growth had not kept up with the nation. Young South Dakotans were too often leaving our state to pursue college or a career. Cities like Sioux Falls were growing, but our rural communities were slowly falling behind.
I grew up in rural South Dakota – I love what our rural communities stand for. I knew that we could turn that trend around, and that’s exactly what we’ve done in the last four years.
Because of the example of Freedom that South Dakota set during the pandemic, millions of Americans visited our state. Thousands chose to make South Dakota their home. But they didn’t only move to Sioux Falls or Rapid City. We have folks moving to small towns, too – even some of our smallest town!
This was possible because we prioritized strengthening our small towns. Folks shouldn’t have to choose between the career of their dreams and our rural way of life, and now they don’t have to. We’ve made several key investments in our rural communities that have made this possible.
When I was first elected, I pledged to connect every corner of South Dakota to high-speed broadband, but it looked like this would take 10 years to accomplish. Because of South Dakota’s tremendous tax revenues, we managed to fully fund our broadband program in just a couple years. We have connected thousands of South Dakotans to high-speed internet. Families in small towns now can get Wi-Fi access right at home. Farmers can get internet to monitor various aspects of their operations.
Rural healthcare is an issue that has also fallen behind over the years, but we addressed that challenge, too. I proposed and signed legislation to extend telehealth flexibilities to South Dakotans. Now, you can talk to your doctor over the internet from wherever you are, making it so much easier to get the healthcare that you need, even from a rural community.
We also improved training and purchased new equipment for our emergency first responders and are investing in regional emergency response services. This will have a particularly strong impact on our rural communities. We want to be sure that every South Dakotan can be taken care of in an emergency, no matter where you live.
Our entire state’s economy depends on agriculture, and this is doubly true in our small towns. Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden and I made our living farming and ranching, so we understand the challenges that our farmers face. I worked to secure favorable trade deals that give our producers new markets to sell their goods. We provided grants to 99 small meat processors across the state to increase competition, which will benefit our ranchers. And we’re investing in opportunities to innovate our agriculture industry and keep it strong for the next generation.
Our rural communities are thriving in South Dakota. For the first time in a long time, our young folks are choosing to stay here. People are moving to our small towns to share our way of life. And we are making investments to build on this momentum and keep rural South Dakota strong for the future.