New GLAD director wants community input
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Lindsey Kimber, the new executive director of Glacial Lakes Area Development is an optimist. When she sees a vacant building or learns about a retiring business owner, she envisions opportunities for growth rather than stagnation.
The regional economic development organization she’s heading up focuses on five priority areas, including economic development, community development, tourism, youth engagement and housing. It serves the Greater Marshall County Area of South Dakota, which includes the communities of Britton, Eden, Lake City, Langford and Pierpont.
Kimber has a background in business consulting and has worked with startups and existing companies on many aspects of business development, from strategic planning to succession planning.
In her first several months, Kimber’s been doing a lot of networking throughout GLAD’s service area. “I see myself as helping people connect the dots and providing people with resources more so than having all the right answers,” she says.
She hopes to hold community-wide meetings in each town. “The idea is to have an open exchange,” she says. “People can share ideas about what they would like to see happen. Obviously, people who have lived here have a good sense of what’s worked and what’s needed.”
These meetings will help Kimber get a better understanding of each individual community. “The needs of each community are very different. What’s needed in Britton is not necessarily what’s needed in Eden, which is a substantially smaller town,” she says. “Tourism might be more important than bringing in new businesses in one of the communities. There will be a different focus depending on who we’re working with.”
In Britton, GLAD is currently serving as the fiscal intermediary for a new community center. The multipurpose building, which has an estimated completion date of May 2018, will be a boon to the community. It will serve as a gathering space for events such as business meetings and weddings. It will also feature a gym and walking track.
One of the key issues Kimber anticipates working on in the future is an updated housing survey. For businesses to expand or relocate to the area, quality housing is a prerequisite. “It’s like the chicken and the egg analogy. We need people to be here to have houses filled. But we need housing to get people here,” says Kimber. A housing survey can help determine what sort of development might make sense for the county at this time.
Kimber praises the entrepreneurial spirit of people in the area. She foresees helping people develop new business opportunities and assisting businesses owners looking to phase into retirement with succession planning.
She says one of the region’s biggest strengths she’s identified is how active and passionate people are about the communities they live in. “People I’ve met here are very forward thinking. They want to help bring people here, keep industry going and raise awareness of the great things we have going on here.”
Glacial Lakes Area Development is a member of the South Dakota Prairie Gateway, a portal for economic development information in Eastern Rural Communities of South Dakota.