South Dakota Editorial Roundup

Excerpts of recent South Dakota editorials

The Associated Press

Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, May 11, 2013

Use creativity to attract events

Visitors to Sioux Falls in the coming months and years will have more hotels to choose from and more entertainment options with Sanford’s new sports complex and the city’s events center, currently under construction near the Arena.

Those entertainment venues will draw more visitors to the city and hopefully spur continued development.

That positive news, however, is offset by concerns raised this week about the city’s ability to attract and grow its convention business.

To attract larger regional and national conventions, the city needs additional small group meeting spaces and hotels that are near the convention facilities, says Teri Schmidt, executive director of the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau. The shortcoming is becoming more apparent when she and her staff go to conferences and try to sell Sioux Falls conventions.

The assessment from Schmidt was surprising to some, given all the positive development projects underway in our city. But if the lack of adequate hotel rooms on or near our convention center is hurting our ability to draw more regional conventions, then it’s worth our time to study possible solutions.

We have close to 5,000 hotel rooms now in the city, with several new properties going up. But only the Sheraton, with its 242 rooms, is attached to the convention space, limiting the draw of groups in a city where walking could be dicey in the winter and a great concentration of restaurants and bars is a few miles away in downtown Sioux Falls.

To alleviate this room and meeting space shortage, several questions will need to be answered: Is there a way to make the 1,000 hotel rooms near the convention center more attractive to potential groups who balk at having to walk or drive to activities? Can we add additional meeting room space in the existing convention center complex? Are there ways to use the convention center, Arena and new events center in creative ways that would please visitors? Are there events to book at the new events center that would provide entertainment and a draw for convention guests, too?

We are not naive; clearly there are complex issues involved here. It is not unusual for a city our size to wrestle with those concerns. Take Fargo, N.D., for instance. That city’s popular dome offers a large amount of exhibit space, but there is no hotel within three miles.

But as a growing city, Sioux Falls should be a draw for state, regional and some smaller national conventions. Conventions bring money into the economy and fuel further economic growth.

So, let’s start to tackle this problem now. Bringing together private business, community and city leaders and Chamber executives to study the issue and potentially recommend solutions is the right first step.

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Capital Journal, Pierre, May 12, 2013

Johnson is right: Taxing Internet sales is matter of fairness

Sen. Tim Johnson is right: the Marketplace Fairness Act that has breezed to easy passage in the U.S. Senate would help put retailers and small vendors in states such as South Dakota on an equal footing with sellers who haven’t had to worry about collecting the same taxes. It may have been difficult at one time to collect taxes from remote purchases, but that’s become easier and easier in the age of the Internet.

If Main Street retail space is to compete with Cyberspace, there’s no reason Congress shouldn’t pass this bill; and U.S. senators apparently agreed when they voted 69 to 27 in favor of it on May 6.

With that said, it’s not at all certain the bill will become law. A website called govtrack.us gives bills a prognosis, and it calculates that this one has a 0 percent chance of passage.

Retailers who worry about losing customers to out-of-state Internet vendors should weigh in on this. Let Washington know what you think.

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, May 10, 2013

Time to allow wine on downtown sidewalks

Anytime we travel to other towns, we can’t help but work our way to the downtown business district to see what’s up.

Often, we notice all kinds of neat and interesting shops and stores, artsy galleries and unique restaurants. Anyone who’s spent time in the Sioux Falls downtown area knows what we’re talking about. Same goes for towns like Fargo, N.D., and Fort Collins, Colo.

In many large towns, the historic business district isn’t exactly what it used to be; that’s partly a result of business migration to the city’s outskirts, along interstates and bypasses. But many places have figured out that with a little help from the city itself, the business district can still be a viable place to set up shop.

Mitchell’s Main Street business district is trying hard to become a unique place to shop, eat and stroll. Niche businesses have sprung up in place of former downtown mainstays, and an association of business owners and other interested parties meets regularly to try to map out a future for the neighborhood.

What downtown really needs, however, is the support of the city, and the City Council, when ideas arise that could spark even the smallest economic development.

One of those ideas has again surfaced, and we’re again watching from afar to see the expected debate begin. The proposal is to allow the serving of wine on sidewalks adjacent to wine-licensed business in downtown Mitchell, and it’s an issue that likely will again draw controversy.

When the issue arose last year, the council seemed interested in approving it. The council changed course, however, after hearing impassioned speeches from a handful of people who are opposed to allowing alcohol consumption on sidewalks.

The first reading of the latest version of the ordinance will likely be May 20 at City Hall.

We urge the council to keep an open mind. We also urge the council to give the OK to serving wine on sidewalks. We note that the proposal limits service to a specific area of downtown Mitchell, and that it prohibits serving wine outdoors during the Corn Palace Festival.

Participating businesses would be required to pay an application fee and provide the city with detailed plans for service and outdoor furniture.

This seems fair to everyone.

Mitchell’s downtown businesses deserve an opportunity to add a touch of charm to their neighborhood. To deny them this chance is simply being old-fashioned and behind the times.

And besides, we’re only talking about a few glasses of wine being served on the sidewalk during a beautiful summer evening.

We just can’t see why that’s a big deal.

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