Fueled by the gold rush of 1876, settlers flocked to the Black Hills in search of fortune. Situated between forests of Ponderosa pine to the west and the gently rolling prairie to the east, Rapid City proved to be an ideal location to serve the new population of miners, loggers, and ranchers. Originally called Hay Camp and established in present-day Founders Park, the town quickly became known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills,” a nickname still in use to this day. The gold prospectors may be long gone, but Rapid City remains an important regional hub for tourism, recreation, health care, retail, agriculture, and energy.
With a population of over 74,000, Rapid City is the second-largest city in South Dakota. More than two million people visit annually, making Rapid (as locals call it) their home base for explorations to Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, Custer State Park, the Badlands, and more. The quaint downtown features plenty of shops and restaurants, a vibrant Main Street Square that hosts concerts and events throughout the year - it’s even transformed into an ice-skating rink in the winter - and life-sized bronze statues of all former U.S. presidents, inspiring its nickname, the City of Presidents. Generations of children have enjoyed attractions like Storybook Island, Dinosaur Park, Reptile Gardens, and Bear Country U.S.A., returning years later with their own kids.
From a business perspective, it’s hard to beat the many benefits South Dakota has to offer. The state consistently ranks high on national livability lists, boasts the 7th-lowest cost of living index, and was recently named the 7th-safety state in the nation. While residents of larger metropolitan areas often face lengthy drive times, the average statewide commute in South Dakota is a mere 13.8 minutes. This means less stress and more time for leisure activities. Outdoor enthusiasts have an abundance of activities from which to choose year-round, including hiking, fishing, boating, golfing, rock climbing, skiing, and snowmobiling. Cultural opportunities abound; the area hosts top-quality entertainment from around the country, including musicians, comedians, traveling theater groups, international dance troupes, rodeos, powwow competitions, and a world-renowned motorcycle rally. There’s something for everybody!
Rapid City’s robust local economy and abundant natural resources have proven attractive to a diverse group of industries. Taking advantage of extensive fossil and renewable energy resources, Midwestern utility and energy giant Black Hills Corporation chose Rapid City as its headquarters. The city’s central location makes it a great fit for other corporate and regional headquarters and an appealing option for transportation companies. Dominant players in the area include Regional Health and Ellsworth Air Force Base. Other strong economic sectors ripe with opportunity include engineering, business services, banking and finance, insurance, IT, research and development, and manufacturing. Low startup costs and a lack of corporate and individual income taxes give South Dakota a very business-friendly climate.
Some say living in South Dakota is like a dream come true. We work hard and we play hard. We make a profit and we keep that profit. Best of all, we have the time to do the things that are most important to us - and that’s the way life is meant to be!