South Dakota Badlands/Bad River Regional Plan Receives National Designation

Tammi Schone
South Dakota
Release Date
Mar 10, 2015

The Stronger Economies Together (SET) Badlands/Bad River Region’s long range economic development plan has passed a High Quality Plan (HQP) review by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is only the 4th plan to receive the HQP designation nationally.  This is quite an accomplishment considering this region is in the 3rd round of SET regional planning; SET has been launched in 28 states and nearly 60 regions.

The SET Program is sponsored by USDA Rural Development, in partnership with South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension and the Regional Rural Development Centers.  It is designed to strengthen the capacity of rural communities and counties to work together in developing and implementing regional economic development plans.   Building on the current and emerging economic strengths of the region, the Badlands/Bad River region collaborated to produce a plan that benefits the entire region.

A diverse group of people from the Badlands/Bad River Region participated in putting this plan together and invested many hours in planning.   According to Dave Hahn, former mayor of Wall, “The SET Program has been very interesting and time consuming; however, the Region will reap tremendous benefits from these endeavors.  Because of the recent acceptance of our long range plan we must now forge forward with even greater drive, interest, and enthusiasm.”

Upon learning of the High Quality Plan designation, Dawn Hilgenkamp, with West River Electric of Wall said, “That is great news.  It is nice to see that all of our work was worth it.  Now I hope we can use this plan to help bring the communities together, and help our small towns prosper.”

Joe Johndreau, Interior, SD community member added, “It was encouraging to see so many people involved in the start-up phase of the SET project. Now that our plan is recognized as a High Quality Plan, I hope more people show interest in economic development within our region.  It’s been a very gratifying experience to be part of something as valuable as economic development planning for the Badlands/Bad River Region.  The Badlands/Bad River Region has a lot to offer in conjunction with South Dakota’s established business friendly reputation. ”

According to  Rachel Welborn, Program Manager at the Southern Rural Development Center, “The South Dakota Badlands/ Bad River SET Region is a perfect example of people in rural places erasing traditional boundaries to find new solutions to economic growth.”

So what’s next?  This region will begin plan implementation with action goals focused on entrepreneurial support and unification of the region.   Some steps include:  Submitting a proposal to the South Dakota Community Foundation and planning a kick-off campaign to get more people involved in forming strategies for the plan.  This HQP designation allows the region access to $5,000 seed funding to get started.
To accomplish the goals of the Badlands/Bad River Region, the involvement of everyone in Haakon, Jackson and eastern Pennington counties is welcomed and encouraged.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in getting this plan put together.  You believe in the future of rural South Dakota and are looking forward to what the future holds for the phenomenal Badlands/Bad River Region.

For more information or to become involved, contact one of the Badlands/Bad River SET Coaches:  Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension, at or 605-394-1722; Kari O’Neill, SDSU Extension, at or 605-685-6972 or Christine Sorensen, USDA Rural Development at or 605-224-8870, Ext. 123.