Rapid City building continues, store fronts waiver as pandemic carries on
Elevate Rapid City looks for opportunities near and far
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Buildings are going up while some are clearing out. For some business sectors, it’s almost business as usual during the pandemic and others are forced to adapt.
Building permits have continued to climb in Rapid City, bringing in big bucks. Since April of this year, $106 million has come in compared to $81 for the same time frame last year.
Apartment complexes and shopping centers continue to see development, but store fronts are still clearing out in downtown and others continue to sit vacant from even before the pandemic.
Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender says while turnover is normal for local businesses, the pandemic isn’t helping matters and the city likely won’t reverse courses anytime soon.
Earlier in the year, restaurants and shops were forced to get creative with customer service, turning to curbside or online ordering to keep the business alive.
“One thing we can do is to keep the downtown business improvement district health,” said Allender. “Keep those buildings attractive and available when they are vacated and if we keep building, we can still build while some businesses are going away and we just sustain for however long this period is.”
Even though there are businesses still popping up in some of the vacant spots, he says sustaining through the next year will be key and Elevate Rapid City has been working to keep businesses afloat.
Earlier in the pandemic, Elevate concentrated on recruitment, bringing new business to Rapid City.
“Looking outside of Rapid City, trying to get businesses to come here probably wasn’t the best idea,” said CEO of Elevate Rapid City, Tom Johnson. “So we focused exclusively on local businesses here.”
The emergency bridge loan program helped 18 businesses and gave low interest loans totally $219,500. Now, the focus is shifting back to both helping local businesses and bringing in those interested in the area.
Launching soon with Elevate is the downtown facade loan program.
“We’re working with Destination Rapid City to identify those businesses who are struggling and work with them and make sure they have the resources to continue to operate, but in the event that there are vacancies, [we want to] renovate those facades and look for clients to attract downtown,” said Johnson.
Johnson says last year there were no businesses interested in moving to the Rapid City area. Now, there are over 25 operations ranging from technology to manufacturing with at least six seriously considering the move.