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SDN announces contribution to spur rural workforce housing

looking up to the sky through trusses of a new home being built


WHO: SDN Communications, Avera Health, East River Electric Power Cooperative and First Bank & Trust
WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 15
WHERE: SDN Communications, Building 1, Sioux Falls, SD

SDN Communications and its 17 member companies across the state, which have been concerned about rural workforce housing for several years, have joined with three other regional business organizations to help address the rural housing crunch.

SDN is announcing a $1 million pledge in a housing-development initiative that is part of a revolving loan fund administered through East River Electric Power Cooperative of Madison. Loans from the Rural Electric Economic Development (REED) Fund will support private and nonprofit developers who create homes such as multi-family apartment complexes and single-family homes.

As a nonprofit operation, the program can offer loans with attractive rates. The objective is to spur economic development, not profit from making loans. Loans will not be provided to individual homebuyers, however. They will continue to be served by regular lenders.

The availability of housing is a huge economic issue in many South Dakota communities, said SDN CEO Mark Shlanta. He pointed out that SDN and its member companies, and East River Electric and its affiliates have similar business footprints in the region, so they make great partners.

“Instead of SDN and its member companies starting its own housing development fund, East River already has the staff and years of practice,” Shlanta said. “We thought it would be better for us to invest in the success East River already has and work with the electric industry on building houses rather than create more administration for building houses.”

Avera Health, which has affiliated healthcare facilities throughout the region, has also joined the housing initiative. It, too, is a good fit for the project. Sioux Falls-based Avera is a regional healthcare system with more than 300 facilities in 100 communities in South Dakota and neighboring states. Avera initially invested $1 million in the initiative and has pledged to invest a second million when the need arises.

First Bank & Trust based out of Brookings has made a similar pledge. All businesses will be on hand to talk about their housing goals and answer questions.


UPDATE: Watch the news conference below