Lake Area Improvement Corporation Hires New Director

Thursday, June 20, 2019

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The Lake Area Improvement Corporation (LAIC) has a new executive director. Eric Fosheim recently relocated to Madison for the position. He looks forward to making a home and a difference in Lake County, South Dakota.

The LAIC is a one-stop resource for businesses seeking to grow in Lake County. Its mission is to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of the Lake County area and to facilitate the development and retention of quality jobs that are environmentally and economically compatible for Lake County.

Fosheim is originally from Huron, South Dakota. He spent more than a decade working in Sioux Falls after graduating from the University of South Dakota with a degree in business management. He initially worked in banking. For the last four years Fosheim has worked for the state of South Dakota in positions related to economic and business development in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Department of Agriculture.

In Fosheim’s time working for the state, he became acquainted with people in Lake County and grew to appreciate the area and its potential. “There always seemed to be a lot going on in Madison and Lake County in all aspects of economic development,” he says. “It has a great support system for a community of this size.”

Though it's a rural area, Lake County is increasingly fueled by a diversified, technology-driven economy. A couple of Fosheim’s initial priorities in leading LAIC have to do with two new businesses that are moving to the area.

Tru ShrimpThe Tru Shrimp aquaculture company is bringing its operations to Madison. It’s building a harbor that will be capable of raising 8 million pounds of shrimp each year.

LAIC and city officials are working diligently to ensure all the pieces are in place for Tru Shrimp to move forward. The company is expected to have an ongoing annual impact of $30 million on the region. The facility will employ 150 people.

Another major focus for the new director is assisting in streamlining the development process for Madison Cyber Labs (MadLabs), a center for cyber security and cyber operations research and development in South Dakota.

MadLabs will be the first research facility of its kind in the Upper Great Plains region. It will build on existing capabilities at Dakota State University (DSU) and expand its national leadership in the cyber security field.

This project is expected to boost DSU enrollment and create new jobs — bringing new residents to Madison. It will also be a driver of economic development,

“MadLabs will employ up to 200 IT folks in all facets of the technology universe. These are great jobs coming to Madison,” says Fosheim.

Given these two major projects, LAIC is also working to ensure the Lake County area’s workforce and housing needs are met. Madison recently changed some ordinances to be more business-friendly for developers going forward.

Breaking down barriers related to housing development is an important step, according to Fosheim. “We need good quality housing at affordable prices,” he says, noting that a number of people are commuting to Madison for work because they can’t find housing.

LAIC is working with the Department of Labor to better understand area demographics in terms of area jobs, workforce and commuting patterns. He’s planning to meet with large manufacturers to talk about their workforce needs.

“I want to engage employers. It doesn’t do any good to take a shotgun approach at this. The idea is to hone in on specific needs,” he says. “Hopefully, we can help them market available positions.”

LAIC may hold community roundtable discussions related to the workforce topic in the future. Fosheim also wants to augment the organization’s social media marketing and use it to actively promote opportunities in Lake County.

Fosheim credits the LAIC board with being actively involved and invested in economic development. “They have a broad knowledge base and are very supportive and progressive when comes to economic development. They don’t sit around waiting for the next project,” he explains. “They’re actively pursuing those economic development opportunities … It’s very evident that they want the community to continue to grow and succeed.”

Lake Area Improvement Corporation is a member of the South Dakota Prairie Gateway, a portal for economic development information in Eastern Rural Communities of South Dakota.


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