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Rapid City fund invests in local businesses for a decade

November 19, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A Rapid City economic development fund has been awarding millions of dollars to local businesses for more than a decade.

The taxpayer-backed Opportunity Capture Fund invested $2 million in outdoor equipment store Cabela’s from 2007 to 2009 and $500,000 in energy company Black Hills Corp. in 2015. Smaller grants from the fund have also helped keep local companies in business, such as the $15,000 award to brewery Lost Cabin Beer Co. in 2015, the Rapid City Journal reported.

“We started and still run with a pretty shoestring budget and this (2015 grant) allowed us a little breathing room to bring on some additional staff that we otherwise might not have been able to,” said Jesse Scheitler, co-founder of Lost Cabin. “It was very valuable to Lost Cabin.”

The fund allows the city to offer incentives to new companies considering moving to the area or existing companies looking to expand or relocate, according to Ben Snow, who helped administer the fund for nine years.

Snow, the Rapid City Council and a city committee tied to the fund all vetted each company’s application before awarding grants from the Opportunity Capture Fund. The biggest condition for companies is to contribute high-wage job creation, Snow said.

“A job is not just a job for us,” said Snow, former president of the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership. “It has to be a higher quality. It has to have benefits. It has to have pay that’s higher than what the average is.”

Companies that fail to meet the conditions can have their grant award turned into a loan.

The city is also looking for applicants with capital investment and a commitment to the area.

“We’re interested in how deep a root is this company planting in our community,” Snow said. “That gives us more assurance they’re going to be here longer.”

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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