President Benjamin Harrison knew a rivalry would be afoot 125 years ago when he signed North and South Dakota into statehood. He even had the names hidden and the admission papers shuffled so no one would know which joined the union first.
So two weeks ago, when Cities of Promise wrote about the Promise exploration of Fargo, N.D. , we suspected that a South Dakota story was soon to follow. And we were right.
That’s because the Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation is exploring the concept of offering college funding to all of its students. And like Fargo, the economic interests of the city are at the center of the examination. Sioux Falls is interested in having more learning opportunities for its young people, but it wants to retain those future college degree holders.
The Foundation’s chairperson, Amy Scott-Stoltz, told Patrick Anderson of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, “It’s tough to keep young people in South Dakota and Sioux Falls.”
Fellow board member Vernon Brown had read that similarly-sized cities in the Plains — Lincoln, Neb.; Rochester, Minn.; and rival Fargo — had a higher percentage of local residents holding college degrees. He pitched the idea to the board by asking, “What’s that big audacious goal we should be striving for?”
And while creating a college-going culture and retaining young residents would be tremendous, beating Fargo to the punch would make it even better.