Photo looking up into dome of capitol building in Pierre, SD

Candidate school conducted for next generation of civic leaders

The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce continues to encourage businesses to support their employees who have an interest in running for public office. This would include serving in both local (school board, city council and county commission) and state (legislative) office. Electing business-friendly policy makers will ensure our region continues to enjoy a strong economic climate with a robust economy.

At the request of our volunteer leadership, in 2020 the Chamber established a political action committee, BIZPAC, to support candidates with business acumen.

we need to create a pipeline of people who are prepared to step forward and become policy leaders in our city and state.

The Chamber believes that business-friendly policy makers should be in the room when important decisions impacting our community are made. To ensure this happens, we need to create a pipeline of people who are prepared to step forward and become policy leaders in our city and state.

As we seek to engage and encourage those business-friendly policy makers, this year the Chamber took the next step and organized a pilot version of a non-partisan candidate school. The program was titled Developing the Greater Sioux Falls Next Level of Civic Leadership (NLCL) and it sought to support individuals who are considering a future run for public office. Whether the participants are in the early stages of considering a run for office or are ready to file the paperwork tomorrow, NLCL was a crash course in everything that goes into running for a local or state office.

The pilot program of the NLCL, which was held in November of 2021, sought to educate and empower the next generation of civic leaders. The goal of the program was to give participants a deeper understanding of what it takes to run for and to serve in public office. The three-session program offered information about the roles and responsibilities of various levels of government, provided a firsthand look at the challenges and opportunities of serving in public office, and equipped participants with the knowledge and skills to run a campaign.

Eighteen business-friendly community leaders participated in the pilot NLCL program. Attendees gained the following benefits and skills:

  • Participants heard from nearly 30 current and former elected officials, campaign managers and political insiders on the merits and challenges of running for and holding public office.
  • Participants expanded their knowledge about the roles and responsibilities of various levels of government.
  • Participants expanded their networks by connecting with other passionate, civic-minded community leaders.
  • Participants now have the opportunity to be mentored by a former elected official to help them strengthen their platform and make decisions about their personal civic journey.

The undertaking of creating and launching NLCL was no small feat. The Chamber could not have undertaken such a large project without the help, support and expertise of our members. We want to thank the nearly 30 elected officials and campaign experts who provided the content for NLCL. In addition, we thank those individuals who attended who are considering public service.

Vice President of Government Relations

Debra Owen

Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce