At a recent meeting of the South Dakota Retailers Association, members were in an upbeat mood, said Dan Tribby of Prairie Edge in Rapid City. Tribby is the retail group’s new board president.
“Most people at our roundtable discussion had good years in 2014,” he said. “And they are optimistic for 2015. … I don’t think anybody expects to get rich, but they do look forward to a good year.”
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that its Small Business Optimism Index gained 0.1 point to 98 in February, the third highest reading since early 2007.
The survey of 716 small business owners found 29 percent could not fill open positions, the highest level since April 2006. Fourteen percent of them cited the shortage of skilled labor as their top problem, the highest since September 2007. That points to future hiring, which will help propel the economy.
“There are fundamental domestic economic currents leading owners to add workers and these should bubble up in the official statistics and support stronger growth in domestic output,” said William Dunkelberg, chief economist at the NFIB.
In the Black Hills, as in much of South Dakota where tourism is a major industry, lower gasoline prices should bring more visitors, Tribby added.
Add to that two major national events — the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August and the 50th Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup — and South Dakota could see a banner year for tourism. Tribby reports that hotels and campgrounds are already seeing a surge in reservations.
And like the NFIB respondents, South Dakota retailers face a big challenge in finding qualified workers, Tribby said.
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