Campaign Total Revealed

Individuals who played a big role in this year’s Vermillion NOW! 3 campaign – Jim Peterson, Farron Pratt, USD President Sheila Gestring, Tim Tracy of Sanford Vermillion, Clay County Commission Chairman Travis Mockler, Mayor Jack Powell, Steve Brown, USD Foundation president and CEO and Jami Baedke, chairman of the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company Board of Directors, reveal the amount raised by the capital fundraising effort during a ceremony Tuesday at RED Steakhouse.

To say that the Vermillion NOW! 3 campaign ended on a high note is an understatement.

The capital campaign, launched last May by the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company (VCDC) and put into motion by a host of VCDC and community members who serve on its leadership team and act as “campaigners,” initially had a goal of raising $1.725 million.

The effort officially ended Tuesday in spectacular fashion as co-chairs of the campaign revealed that Vermillion NOW! 3 has raised $2.01 million.

The news was shared before a crowd of investors who gathered at RED Steakhouse in downtown Vermillion. Campaign co-chairs Jami Baedke, Jim Peterson and Farron Pratt addressed the gathering, and Nate Welch, president and CEO of the VCDC, spoke shortly before the final campaign total was revealed.

“I’m so excited for today, for as we reveal our total raised in the campaign, we have produced results from the ideas launched 10 years ago that have gained momentum,” Baedke said. She expressed thanks to Peterson and Pratt for their efforts, as well as members of the leadership team who have worked hard since the campaign’s launch last May.

The walls in the room at RED Steakhouse where the announcement was held were covered with the names of individuals and local businesses that helped make the campaign’s success possible, according to Peterson.

“The names on those boards represent a community, all of us working together, willing to focus on our goal,” he said. “…We kicked off the campaign about five months ago. We made a strategic decision not to hire a consultant and we saved over $125,000 by us in this room doing the work together.”

The end of the campaign, Peterson said, doesn’t mean the work is finished.

“We have some more meetings set and we have some more numbers to come in,” he said. “We’ll celebrate a number today and I’m confident … that we would reach the goal today, but also we’ll be able to achieve in the next few weeks or month and we’ll let you know what the final total will be.”

While the focus of the campaign is coming to a close, Peterson said, the community will still work together in new areas.

“We’ll stay focused on our priorities as we set out in the Vermillion NOW! 3 campaign – that Vermillion is the destination in South Dakota for opportunities, quality living and great success,” he said. “Those focus areas, as you will recall, will be on amenities and infrastructure and creating jobs.”

Pratt has been involved with all three of the Vermillion Now! campaigns held in the community.

“This one, where we decided to do it all on our own, has been the coolest of the three,” he said. “That’s because it’s not possible without each and every one of you in this room today.”

The Vermillion NOW! 3 was successful thanks to a total team effort involving the campaign co-chairs, the leadership team and the campaigners.

“It’s a lot of work,” Pratt said, “but you’re going to see the benefits of that as we progress through these next five years.”

He noted the campaign’s success is due, in part, to showing the community how the funds raised in the two earlier campaigns have been used, and how the pledges gathered in this latest effort will be used to benefit Vermillion’s future.

“We’ve got these updates that we are going to do and a big part of what we wanted to do is educate the community,” Pratt said. “It was great when I got to talk to people about investing in Vermillion Now – they maybe heard something about it and some hadn’t. Now they know … I think the whole community knows what it’s about now.”

He urged Vermillion NOW! 3 investors to stay engaged with the progressive goals that will be undertaken thanks to the campaign’s funds by logging on to the VCDC’s web page, reading its quarterly magazine, “Verb,” and participating in the UpNext Coffee Hours that are held each week.

Welch expressed thanks to the staff of the VCDC and urged them to enjoy the day. “It’s an affirmation of the hard work that you’ve accomplished and the support of the community that joins you in your passion for Vermillion.”

He expressed thanks also to Megan Davidson, the VCDC’s director of strategic communications and tourism.

“Megan joined our team shortly before this campaign came together and her time and dedication on this campaign is simply unmatched by anybody,” Welch said.

Welch praised the Vermillion community and the volunteers who chose to step up and work on the campaign.

“The volunteers who came and joined this campaign team – none of them had to. They all chose to. It’s why we realized that the phrase of this campaign was simple and genuine: ‘I Choose Vermillion.’ It says it all,” he said.

Welch noted that of the record number of total investors, over 60 percent of them were brand new investors, while nearly 90 percent of previous Vermillion NOW campaign investors returned for additional investments.

In addition, the campaign received 100 percent participation from those closest to the campaign – including the Campaign Leadership Committee, the VCDC Board of Directors and the staff of the VCDC. “Not only does this show an increase in engagement and investment in the community, but it demonstrates a willingness to continue to show up for Vermillion,” he said.

The campaign was led by multiple major gifts, which made up over $1.1 million dollars of the more than $2 million raised. This momentum from strategic partners such as the University of South Dakota/USD Foundation, the City of Vermillion, Clay County, Polaris, First Dakota National Bank and Sanford (Sanford Health, Sanford Vermillion and the Dakota Hospital Foundation) helped spur on the second half of the campaign, Welch said.

“I’m proud of how far we have come and the direction we are moving in as a community,” said Vermillion Mayor Jack Powell. “I have seen many changes happen these past 10 years since the inception of Vermillion NOW, and I am excited for the future of Vermillion, thanks to the dedication of the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company and anyone who has contributed to the Vermillion NOW! 3 campaign.”

Vermillion NOW! 3 will help fund changes and improvements in the amenities and infrastructure of Vermillion, create jobs and improve workforce retention, and help facilitate strategic, collaborative leadership. This is in line with the three key campaign goals of shifting the commuter-to-resident ratio from 41 percent down to 35 percent; increase the number of young professionals residing in the area; and increasing the total population of the Vermillion area by 4 percent.

“These resources will make it possible to achieve the goals we have set for the future of Vermillion,” Welch said. “The continued support of the community through donations to this campaign will turn dreams for Vermillion into a reality.”

Vermillion NOW! History

Vermillion NOW! 1

Ten years ago, the first Vermillion NOW! Initiative was launched.

“These initiatives are five years in time. We try to raise some money, set those dollars aside and then to try to act on them and try to invest them with time, energy and strategic investments,” Welch told the Plain Talk earlier this year. “The Vermillion NOW! 1 campaign in 2008 was a $1.6 million campaign with a focus on creating new jobs, increasing the payrolls throughout the community, expansions and building up of available properties to help recruit new businesses.”

He noted that the Vermillion NOW! 1 investment helped spearhead great growth in Vermillion in recent years.

“Some of those results you’re seeing now include two tenants in the Vermillion Technology Center with a total payroll of about $4 million,” Welch said.

There is also land available for businesses that are looking to expand or move to Vermillion, he said. “It takes having those resources available and setting them up in order to be ready.”

With the success of Vermillion NOW! 1

came new challenges for Vermillion NOW! 2, Welch said.

Job growth outpaced the workforce; we had a dependency on a commuter workforce for future expansion and a lack of housing, he said.

Vermillion NOW! 2

The Vermillion NOW! 2 campaign raised $1.65 million.

We were able to invest in Bliss Pointe, Welch said. Through those dollars from Vermillion NOW! 2, we leveraged those dollars along with assets of the organization as well as partners in the community -- three banks and two foundations -- the USD Foundation and the Dakota Hospital Foundation along with First Dakota National Bank, First Bank and Trust and CorTrust Bank all put in dollars to help fund a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) for us to be able to do the development out at Bliss Pointe.

The Bliss Pointe housing development, he said, is located on 60 acres of land that initially had a valuation of $50,000.

Currently, housing has been constructed on 35 of those acres.

It has a valuation of over $8.8 million in property value, Welch said. That kind of investment doesnt come by one person building a house at a time and another house at a time. The challenge in economics that we have is that the construction business doesnt allow for that kind of investment to happen in the marketplace by itself. Giving it a nudge and then stepping out of the marketplace when its appropriate is what we try to do as an organization and to be able to do that, you have to balance a lot of different things.

From there, we were able to refine those targeted industries, we were able to recruit more businesses and help current businesses grow, he said. We wanted to continue community enhancement programs, especially arts and culture -- we all know the value of that in creating an attractive community in which we all want to live -- and of course that marketing of Vermillion as a destination for new business development and a destination for quality of life.

Thats what Vermillion NOW! 2 focused on, Welch said.

Besides Bliss Pointe and the Vermillion Technology Center, some of the other things accomplished thanks to Vermillion NOW! 2 include new marketing campaigns for Vermillion and the creation of McVicker Plaza in downtown that houses VCDC offices, an entrepreneurial center and Charlies, a retail store that sells University of South Dakota apparel, gifts, souvenirs, and other items.

A summary of Vermillion NOW! 2s results include:

-- a $12,150 investment in Bliss Pointe that helped produce a housing development with a current property value of $8.8 million that generates $178,000 in property taxes

-- a $150,000 investment in economic development strategy that has helped bridge the gap between USD and the community; created an entrepreneurial ecosystem and helped create McVicker Plaza

-- a $406,262 investment in business recruitment and expansion that went towards a young professionals network, workforce development and retention of properties to recruit or expand businesses

-- a $83,974 investment in community enhancements including the retention of the downtown movie theater, promotion and support of arts and culture in the community and the Sculpture Walk

-- a $249,849 investment in marketing Vermillion through a collaborative grassroots marketing campaign and enhanced perspective of Vermillion, including the reinforcement of the law school viability in the community

-- a $183,938 investment in economic development leadership which includes a 260 percent growth of VCDC capacity, enhanced engagements and investment opportunities to produce more resources, and

-- $126,616 devoted to Vermillion NOW! 2 campaign planning and Vermillion Now! 3 campaign planning.

Vermillion NOW! 3

The Vermillion NOW! 3 campaigns goal, when it was launched last May, was to raise $1.725 million to invest in accomplishing three main goals to benefit the Vermillion community.

The first goal is to shift the commuter to resident ratio in the community from 41 percent to 35 percent.

Especially during the school year we literally have 41 percent of those working in our community driving into town and then leaving town, Welch said. If we can shift that just a little bit, well be able to grow the community to a point of about 300 or 400 people or about 4 percent.

That 4 percent population growth in the community is Vermillion NOW! 3s second goal.

The campaigns third goal is to increase the number of young professionals residing in the Vermillion area.

There is no other community in South Dakota that produces more of that great workforce than Vermillion, Welch said, referring to young people who attend and graduate from USD. We have them literally right in our town. We can snag them up before they leave and go somewhere else.

Attracting young professionals is an area in which Vermillion needs to improve, he added.

In the last 20 years, weve had a zero to negative net increase of 25- to 54-year-olds in our community, Welch said. We have the ability to grow in the area of young professionals, but we need to invest in that area.

Vermillion NOW! 3 dollars will be allocated across three focus areas.

-- $310,000 will be devoted to amenities and infrastructure

-- $680,000 will be allocated to job creation

-- $735,000 will be focused toward strategic, collaborative leadership

Improving amenities and infrastructure, Welch said, is improving the quality of life. Its improving it so that when people are moving here, we have what they are moving from and we have more of what theyre doing.

The investment in job creation, he added, goes hand-in-hand with that first focus area, as people will need opportunities for employment to be able to move to Vermillion.

We also need jobs for those spouses who follow along with their spouses who have found a job here. Were not just recruiting individuals now; youre also recruiting their spouses because the majority of households are dual income, Welch said.

The strategic, collaborative leadership involves a group effort that takes time, Welch said.

It takes practice, it takes consistency, it takes coordination to be able to actually create that collaboration with one another, he said.

This area includes engaging partners in quality housing solutions, continuing to provide creative economic opportunities, developing leadership and promoting Vermillion on behalf of its businesses and residents.

For further information about the Vermillion NOW! 3 capital campaign, please contact Director of Strategic Communications & Tourism Megan Davidson at 624-5571 or


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