Thursday, October 6, 2011

King of the Hill

Important news out of city hall today - the community development department lead by Darrin Smith continues to grow and evolve into "the economic development" department.

“Economic development and supporting job creation is a priority for Mayor Huether,” Darrin Smith, Director of Community Development said. “This internal restructuring will allow us to provide the highest level of customer service to support residents, neighborhoods, and developments alike.”

There are two very significant organizations in this community who have been the lightning rod for economic development and job creation in this community: Forward Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

When business leaders in the community formed Forward Sioux Falls in 1987 their bold initiative was "to create new jobs and stimulate capital investment in the Sioux Falls area. It was developed as the result of joint cooperation and planning between the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation." This group continues to be a force in economic development to date, raising millions of dollars from investors in the community to further economic development and job creation.

In 1954, business leaders created the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, a non-profit development corporation that facilitates the attraction of new businesses, the retention and expansion of existing firms and the formation of new companies. Their services include business location assistance for new and expanding firms, comprehensive information on industrial park land, available sites and industrial buildings, utilities, demographics, labor statistics, business and tax climate and quality of life.

I think I will lay my trust and expectations for results with these two community based organizations when it comes to economic development and creating jobs. What is interesting with this announcement is the continued neutering of the coordination and leadership of the development side of the Planning and Building Services Department. Smith has now added another Planning/Building Services employee to his department, the new position and employee comes from the zoning enforcement division.

I would like the CD director to expand on his statement that this internal restructuring will provide the highest level of customer service to the residents, neighborhoods and development. Sounds like there hasn't been a high level of customer service coming out of the Planning/Building Services Department and that's the reason for the internal reorganization.

Here is what is in the Director of Planning/Building Services job description

  • Work with development groups, as well as private developers and consultants, to assure timely and effective development of the city.
  • Oversee development and implementation of comprehensive development plan for the city of Sioux Falls.
The Director of Community Development/Public Parking is responsible for urban renewal, block grant funding and public parking. There is nothing in that job description that talks about economic development as it does in the job description duties currently assigned to the incumbent director of planning/building services.

Maybe these two departments should be combined into one and the two directors duke it out for king of the hill. I can tell you where my money would go on that fight - with the director that has decades of planning and development experience. Not with the director who ran non profits related to health issues with no education, experience and training in planning, urban/economic development and job creation.

The dismantling of the planning/building services department continues. I just wish the new "King of the Hill" had some experience in his takeover of the responsibilities of a seasoned, experienced director.


  1. A former zoning enforcement employee is now in charge of federal block grants.............???!!

    I certainly hope that he has more than zoning enforcement as part to his work history....!!!!!

  2. I wonder how often Smith goes over to visit his department employees since he has an office in City Hall. The operations for Community Development/public parking is in the bowels of Carnegie Hall. If he wants to run the Planning Department why doesn't he just go to City Hall 2nd floor.

  3. Darrin doesn't have any job experience so why should any of the employees under him. That way they won't know what he is or is not doing. Everybody will be operating in the dark. What a joke.

  4. Why is this news? Every time someone blows their nose down at city hall, the mayor sends out a press release. It is nauseating.

  5. They have to create news so they keep their name out there and both newspaper and tv stations fall for this fake "news". People begin to tune out because the the general public actually recognizes it as non-news.

  6. Why do you all dislike Darrin so much? Do any of you think that Randy was competent? Why can't a former zoning enforcement officer be promoted? Why are they not possibly capable of doing more than what they did before? You all are mostly funny and sad. Get a life. Move on.

  7. Dear commentator at 12:03 pm,
    Who said anything about Mr. Bartunek and why would you disparage a former employee who at least had the experience to run his department which by the way did not include "economic development" because it was actually the domain of the Planning Department. Huether obviously didn't like him or he just considered him expendable so he could appoint his friend Smith and build their little fiefdom down there at the expense of experience at Planning. Why does Smith's little corner need to duplicate what is actually the domain of Planning? That's the question here? Especially as Jennifer so aptly pints out isnt even in the job description of Smith's pointed job? He just isn't qualified period. I feel bad for Cooper and Scmidt and Beck and the other people who used to make up the Planning Dpt. It must be horrible to have to defer to know nothing, no experience Darrin Smith. Move on. Never, as long as these jokers still draw a paycheck from the City.