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Businesses across South Dakota are struggling to find employees as the pool of available workers has fallen since the COVID-19 pandemic. While the labor shortage could force employers to raise wages and benefits, it could also slow the state's economic growth and upend the opportunity for a post-pandemic surge in the state economy.
South Dakota officials are investigating whether the state owns a strip of land that runs through the Sioux Steel property in Sioux Falls that is poised for a $185 million project that could redefine the north end of the city's downtown. If the state claims ownership of the former Big Sioux River channel -- which has an ownership history dating back to President Abraham Lincoln -- it could complicate the land sale needed to begin work on the residential, retail, convention center and parking lot project.
A California energy company plans to install technology at South Dakota dairy farms that will capture methane from manure and convert it into natural gas. Three Sioux Falls-area dairy farms are signed on to the program that will create a new revenue stream for the farmers, generate a source of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
PART 1 OF A 2-WEEK SERIES: South Dakota livestock production is undergoing a major transition with the expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in which thousands and even millions of animals are raised in a confined space. The large livestock operations are efficient and profitable, but they can also harm human health and damage the environment. As opposition rises, state government is offering financial incentives to counties that approve new projects. Along the way, the farms are sowing heated division in many rural communities and stoking fears South Dakota may end up like CAFO-heavy Iowa, which has seen fish kills and waterway pollution.
THIS WEEK: Overview of CAFO growth in S.D.; Health concerns follow CAFOs; New state program provides financial incentives for CAFOs.
NEXT WEEK: A visit to three large S.D. livestock operations
A SOUTH DAKOTA NEWS WATCH SPECIAL REPORT: Native American students in South Dakota have for decades lagged far behind their white peers in academic achievement, leading to devastating later-in-life consequences. South Dakota educators and experts blame the failures mainly on inequities and gaps in the public-school system and lingering societal issues, including generational poverty and historical trauma, that are far outside students' control. In a two-week special report, News Watch examines the problem and reveals how a new inclusive approach to public education and a host of reform efforts could lead to a renaissance in Native education in South Dakota. The two articles in Part 1 are published here.