Dusty Johnson visits Spearfish

SPEARFISH, S.D. — As congressional leaders work with the White House to nail down a stimulus relief bill, local small business owners got the lowdown from Congressman Dusty Johnson and expressed their concerns.

Economic growth is on the minds of small business owners in Spearfish. From community staples to start-ups, they have all been affected this year, and they got to voice their their concerns to Congressman Johnson about the Cares Act Relief. It’s an opportunity the business owners don’t take lightly, as elected officials in larger communities are often not as accessible.

“It’s just a chance to get a Washington D.C. update, hear what is happening, especially with the second stimulus bill taking place right now,” said executive director of the Spearfish Economic Development Corp., Kory Menken. “A chance for us to say thank you to the congressman for all his work on behalf of the local business community. But really just to learn, for him, to hear first hand from members of the spearfish business community what kind of an impact this has had on our local community.”

While the pandemic has taken a toll on all areas of life, Spearfish has managed to maintain some normalcy. Between tourism, and the return of college students, the city has had thrived, and in some cases, even exceeded expectations.

“No question about it, we’ve had businesses impacted negatively, but we’ve also seen some significant increases,” said  Menken. “Our building permit valuations are higher this year than last year. Sales tax, our second penny sales tax is actually up 5 %.”

While talks of a new stimulus relief package continue in Washington, it’s not certain whether or not it will come before the election. Regardless, business owners here were glad to spend the afternoon with their congressman.

“Honestly, it’s been great to have the congressman here, said owner of the Barn at Aspen Acres, Tia Berens. “He has just really opened the door to a lot of us small businesses to give feedback. To not talk about only about the past but about the future, and how they can make new packages that would be helpful for us.”

Stepping away from business, the congressman took time to honor local Vietnam veterans. Johnson recognized five vets for their service to country at the Veterans Memorial Park in Spearfish. With time in service ranging from two-years to 30 years, they all have one thing in common, a love for their country. Of course, their return home from Southeast Asia was far different from what they expected, but some veterans believe it paved the way for a deeper appreciation of those who served.

“It was different coming back from Vietnam, because they didn’t like us very much,” said Gene Ficek, a Vietnam Naval veteran. “But I think our country learned, because it’s never happened again.”

To thank them for their service, Johnson awarded the veterans with commemorative pins and coins, and asks anyone who knows a Vietnam veteran to reach out to his office. so he can continue honoring those who served in that war.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News