Golden arches coming to city by David Lias The leading fast food restaurant chain in the world will soon include Vermillion when it counts its total number of burgers sold.
Jill LeCates, executive director of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce, has confirmed that McDonald's Corporation is in the process of wrapping up its purchase of the Coyote Motel, located near the corner of Cherry and Dakota streets.
Demolition of the motel likely will begin in June, she said. McDonald's plans to construct a new restaurant at the site, and open its doors this fall.
McDonald's began showing strong interest in the community five months ago, in response to information the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce sent to the corporation's regional office in Minneapolis.
"When we received communication from McDonald's, we assembled a task force group to work with them," LeCates said, "with representatives from the city, the Chamber of Commerce, the Vermillion Development Company and The University of South Dakota.
"There was a community cooperative effort to help them get located here," she added, "which is the direction we want to take for all businesses. Whenever there is a business looking at our community, that is our job, to help promote them and help get them to our community."
David Lorenz, dean of students at USD who served on the task force, noted that the new McDonald's restaurant will be more than just a place for university students to grab a quick bite to eat.
"We're excited about the potential for additional employment options for our students," he said. "In addition, McDonald's also promotes scholarship opportunities for students who work for them, too. Those are both very nice pieces of news for USD students."
LeCates said the number of people the restaurant will employ will depend on the building's size and design, which haven't been determined yet.
John Paulson, president of the Vermillion Development Company's board of directors, is excited about McDonald's decision.
"McDonald's will provide additional employment opportunities and they also provide scholarships for student workers, so that's a positive thing for this community," he said. "Having a full complement of restaurants in town makes Vermillion the place to be, and that's something that we're all committed to and are working on together."
Local officials had been working with the corporation's site coordinator, and are now in communication with McDonald's regional representative from Minneapolis.
"He will coordinate the contracting situation, and we have been given all indications that they will work with local contractors, so it's a plus for everybody," LeCates said.
"We have to acknowledge that this is part of the growth and development that we want to have happen here," Paulson said. "We look forward to them being a good corporate citizen in the community by participating in community events
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and activities. They have a good track record of that, like our existing businesses do, so I think they will be a good addition to the team."
Lorenz said he is excited about McDonald's reputation of being a good community citizen.
"We (the university) certainly will do for them what we're willing to do for all other Vermillion businesses in terms of assisting them through our career development center," he said.
The employment opportunities offered by the new restaurant will also help ease the financial burdens faced by university students, Lorenz said.
"More and more students every year are people who are not only here for study, but are working at the same time," he said. "From our standpoint, it's exciting just to have one more option for students to consider."
Paulson is happy to see the team effort in Vermillion prove to be successful in attracting a new business.
"There's been talk of a McDonald's coming to Vermillion for a number of years, and the corporation needed information and needed questions answered about the community," he said. "Everyone that needed to be part of that process was very helpful in providing that for them. We were impressed at how they communicated with us, too, and conducted themselves in making their plans. We're all confident that this will be something positive for Vermillion."
He's confident that this same process will help other businesses decide to locate or expand in the community.
"It's an indication that the community is working together and we're all interested in the same things," Paulson said. "We want other businesses to come here. We have those same objectives that the community does of being a great place to live and work and raise a family."
He said Vermillion's demographics are consistent with the restaurant chain's criteria in terms of population, work force and other requirements.
"With the new bridge opening and the increased traffic, as well as the fact that we will be bringing more people to town thanks to the businesses that are already here," Paulson said, "I think they wanted to be part of that, too.
Vermillion being the home of the second-largest state university in South Dakota, Lorenz believes, helped McDonald's officials decide to build here.
"I certainly think they recognized the advantage of being close to such a concentration of thousands of people," he said, "so I believe it played a factor."
"They found the conditions here to be very conducive to their business being here," Paulson said, "which I think says something very positive about the community. We do look favorable to businesses. We have a good work force, we have good, quality businesses that are already here. We're a community that's growing and we have the vital services that a community needs to have in all respects, including a good, forward-thinking city government."
He believes McDonald's decision to open a restaurant here is a sign of good things to come for Vermillion.
"It's a sign of economic growth for Vermillion. This is just another positive step forward in the growth that we are taking," Paulson said. "Whenever we can get a new business for our community, it's a good thing for everybody."