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South Dakota Colleges

South Dakota Colleges


Acquired in 1803 in the Louisiana Purchase, South Dakota is a plains state with an assortment of geologic points of interest that break up the rolling hills.  The Missouri River cuts a wide valley more or less down the center of the state.  Lewis and Clark passed through on their westward swing, looking for the headwaters of the Missouri River.  The Badlands on the western side of North Dakota extend south into the state.  The Black Hills area of South Dakota, where Mount Rushmore is located, was the scene of a major gold rush in 1874 when the Dakotas were still U.S. Territories. 


The area retained its territorial status until 1889, when both North and South Dakota were brought into the Union.  Today, while North Dakota retains its agricultural nature South Dakota has diversified its economy.  To the west of the Missouri, almost one third of the state’s land is dedicated to Native American Reservations: Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Standing Rock.  Much of the balance of the area is occupied by large cattle and sheep ranches; wheat and soybeans are also grown in the western portion of the state. 


Meatpacking and food processing are the state’s leading industries.  Sioux Falls and Rapid City have seen the influx of some electronics industries.  Gateway Computer got its start in South Dakota, taking advantage of the labor pool.  South Dakota is one of those states that has suffered from “rural flight.”  Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma and South Dakota have seen almost half a million people leave during the years 1996-2004.  Nearly half of those departing had college degrees.  One of the solutions to this dilemma is the offer of free land and tax breaks to newcomers.  This might be an opportunity worth looking into if you are interested in migrating to one of the plains states in search of a little elbow room and a house that you can afford.


Sioux Falls is the biggest city in the state with a population of one hundred thousand.  It is a meatpacking center and has been the site of much of the industrial diversification that the state has developed.  Electronics, computers and wood products are turned out in Sioux Falls factories.  There are a couple of minor colleges there along with a USGS Data Center. 


Rapid City is in the center of an irrigated farm region, served by a federal reclamation project.  It has a population of about 58,000 and is the trade and transportation center of a lumbering, ranching, and mining area.  Gold and other minerals are still being taken from Black Hills mines.  Rapid City is also a tourist town, providing access to Mount Rushmore and the historic sites remaining from the Black Hills gold rush era.


The state has the obligatory University of South Dakota and South Dakota State College, both situated in smaller towns.  The combination of some economic diversification underway in the state and the fact that they are in need of college educated workers would seem to make South Dakota a location worth considering.  The trick to it will be finding a location that makes the tough winters palatable and that has perhaps a little scenery besides miles of flat land to the horizon.  Somewhere in those hills, perhaps.

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