Leveraging community history and scenic location for economic and fiscal resilience in Fort Pierre, SD

fort-pierreClockwise from left: Fireworks on Fort Pierre’s riverfront, a visiting pow wow, and homes on canals connected to the Missouri River. Photos via the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

Fort Pierre, SD – population 2,078 – is approaching its bicentennial in 2017 and it’s a place where locals say, “history here is close enough to touch.” With plans in the works to revitalize its downtown and riverfront, the City is working to make sure it’s well positioned for the next 200 years, too.

To aid in that effort Mayor Gloria Hanson and other city leaders welcomed Smart Growth America’s technical assistance team on July 22 and 23, 2015 for a two-day workshop on how smart growth development strategies can help Fort Pierre grow more financially stable and successful.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to benefit from good, open discussion about the future of Fort Pierre,” said Mayor Hanson. “To have been selected for this valuable technical assistance says a lot about our dynamic and forward-thinking residents.”

The workshop’s first day brought together Fort Pierre residents for an overview of the fiscal and economic impacts of different development patterns, focusing on how they pertain to Fort Pierre’s unique attributes and small scale.

“The combination of Fort Pierre’s historic position as a gateway to the West, its access to a beautiful vista of the Missouri River, and its legacy Main Street provide great opportunities for future growth that can enhance the quality of life for residents, and strengthen municipal finances,” said Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development.

The workshop’s second day brought together a select group of stakeholders including elected officials, planning commissioners, economic development board members, developers, and business owners, who explored the issue in more depth. Participants examined what a more walkable downtown would mean for tourism’s economic impact while thinking in terms of mixed use development, including encouraging an increased number of residential units on main street. The participants also discussed a number of possible improvements, such as installing wayfinding and trailblazing signs, deploying consistent historical markers and encouraging architectural façade treatments that reflect the cultural background of Fort Pierre. Participants also discussed the city’s riverfront as an important uniting element, and examined ways to leverage it moving forward.

The technical workshop program is made possible through a five-year Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities, which seeks to develop local planning solutions that help communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses, while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. Two other nonprofit organizations—Global Green USA and Project for Public Spaces—also received competitively awarded grants this year to support communities in their efforts to bolster smart growth initiatives.

In agreement with Smart Growth America, Fort Pierre will publish one-, six- and twelve-month progress reports. Learn more about the workshop and Fort Pierre’s plans for growth in the documents below.

Workshop Materials:

Technical assistance