Thune introduces legislation to protect Rapid City, other communities from reclassification

Rc Metro 6WASHINGTON — South Dakota Senator John Thune introduced the Metropolitan Statistical Area Preservation Act on Tuesday, designed to protect more than 140 areas – including Rapid City – from losing their MSA classification. The bill would prevent the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) increasing the minimum population currently required to be an MSA.

Losing the classification could harm communities’ access to certain federal funding opportunities and their ability to grow and attract businesses, among other things.

“Increasing the population threshold that is needed to be considered a ‘metropolitan statistical area’ would adversely affect communities in nearly every state, including South Dakota,” said Thune. “The Metropolitan Statistical Area Preservation Act would protect communities like Rapid City from losing their current classification as a metropolitan area, address concerns I have heard from constituents in western South Dakota, and protect them from potentially losing access to certain federal funds.”

President and CEO of Elevate Rapid City, Tom Johnson, said that Rapid City losing its MSA status would be counterproductive.

“It provides cities incentives for bad growth policies like unnecessary annexation and sprawl and could saddle small cities with excessive infrastructure costs to try and get to a new and arbitrary 100,000 MSA designation,” Johnson said. “Additionally, as small cities continue to grow and attract talent, it’s critical that they be seen as MSAs by young professionals who are relocating from large cities to small cities, but seeking similar amenities.”

Thune introduced the bipartisan legislation with Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly. Thune, Kelly, and a number of their colleagues sent a letter to Acting OMB Director, Rob Fairweather, back in March asking him to reject the recommendations to raise the minimum urban area population threshold for MSA designations.

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