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Gov. Daugaard Announces Economic Development Awards

Media note: Photos of the winners will be available at

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The communities of Brookings and Lemmon, Norma Allen of Sturgis and Elmer Karl of Gregory were recognized by Gov. Dennis Daugaard this evening (Tuesday) in Sioux Falls for achievements and contributions to economic development.

For the first time ever, two individuals instead of one – Allen and Karl – were honored with the Excellence in Economic Development award, which is given out at the annual Governor’s Economic Development Conference.

“Elmer Karl is known in his community as an ‘economic development icon.’ He has not only been a business leader in Gregory for 56 years, but has served as Mayor, is a charter member of the Business Improvement District board and has helped his community become a primary trade center in south-central South Dakota,” Gov. Daugaard said. “He has worked to bring in new businesses, helped struggling businesses survive, and donated countless hours and dollars to improving the economy and quality of life in Gregory.”

Allen and her late husband moved their firearm company to Sturgis in 1985, and started what has become the largest firearm-manufacturing cluster in the state.

“Norma Allen has donated her time, provided leadership to the state, and helped cultivate new prospects for South Dakota communities in the firearm industry,”
the Governor said. “She was also a driving force in the fundraising and unveiling of two Sturgis interstate welcome signs that have become very popular photo stops for visitors.”

The generosity of Allen and Karl has touched all ages and economic groups, and it has inspired countless others to become involved in economic and community activities, Gov. Daugaard said.

The Governor recognized the communities of Brookings and Lemmon as the large and small Community of the Year, respectively.

“Lemmon is a community that has really taken development into its own hands and experienced growth after several years of decline,” Gov. Daugaard said. “By taking a progressive approach, Lemmon has seen new businesses and young families moving to the area. Residents, business owners and volunteers promoted Lemmon’s amenities with a promotional video and online marketing, and they saw immediate results.”

“Brookings has done everything right this past year when it comes to economic development,” the Governor said. “It reduced its unemployment rate from 4.3 percent to 3.5 percent, grew its retail sector, and welcomed 25 new businesses – including the $100 million-plus Bel Brands cheese plant, which will employ 400 people. Additionally, Brookings saw several expansions in existing businesses.”

Each of the winners will receive a $2,000 cash prize to be used for an economic development project in their respective communities.

About the Excellence in Economic Development Award:

It was established several years ago to honor the dedication and commitment of eight South Dakotans who lost their lives during an economic development trip.

Businesses and individuals from across the state helped finance the award, established in memory of the late-Gov. George S. Mickelson, Roland Dolly, Ron Reed, Angus Anson, David Birkeland, Roger Hainje, Dave Hanson and Ron Becker.

The spirit of those visionary South Dakotans lives on through the continuing efforts of individuals across the state.




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