American Futures - Most Recent
The real sound of Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls sounds like -- the falls of the Big Sioux River (for which the city was named.)
It also sounds like “Welcome to Sioux Falls” in over 60 different languages spoken by the refugee populations that have settled in the city.
It sounds like construction that is impossible escape – a sign of the city’s continued growth. And hey, they don’t start until 6:30 a.m.
Throughout the day in the distance, you can hear the trains of Sioux Falls – several lines came through the town and helped make it a hub for the region in the late 1800s.
It’s not hard to find a “casino” –where video slot machines merrily ring along.
And if you catch her at the right time, grand ole’ dame of Sioux Falls, Sylvia Henkin, will sing the Sioux Falls Song, commissioned by her husband decades ago. The lyrics perfectly predict the town’s continued growth (and show off Sylvia’s charming singing voice).
A taste of Sioux Falls
In this American Futures project,we're trying to give you a taste of how the American economy really works. And a taste is definitely what I got in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Here's what my Sioux Falls diet (if you wanna call it that) looked like:
- Two egg breakfast sandwiches via Grand Prairie Foods (they come in packs of two).
- Bhutanese dumplings shared with me by the refugee family that made them.
- A sea salt caramel macaron from C.H. Patisserie, the fancy new dessert shop downtown.
- Cappuccino at Coffea in downtown Sioux Falls (one block down from C.H. Patisserie, in fact). It was opening day for the cafe and yes, there was a line.
- All those foods -- they tell you a lot about Sioux Falls. Where's it's been and where it's going. And I'll tell you what -- it's pretty tasty too.
Snapshot: Sioux Falls
Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal joined The Atlantic’s Jim Fallows in Sioux Falls, S.D. for the first stop in our collaboration called “American Futures.”
You can follow along on our trip — and even suggest a future stop -- on our "American Futures" blog.
If you don’t know much about Sioux Falls, you’re not alone. It doesn’t help that an hour away, across the border in Iowa, is the similarly-named Sioux City.
South Dakota's Sioux Falls is the biggest city in the state -- with 159,908 residents within city limits – all 73 square miles of it. The average work commute takes 16 minutes.
The largest employers in the city are the two hospital and health systems – Sanford Health and Avera. John Morrell & Co., the local meat-packing facility comes in third, with 3,300 workers. But that’s followed close behind by Wells Fargo and Citigroup – two big banks that have headquarted their credit-card operations in South Dakota.
The median household income is $51,831 – a couple thousand dollars higher than the median household income for the entire state. About 62 percent of Sioux Falls residents own their own home. The poverty level is at 11.1 percent — compare that to the national poverty level of 15 percent.
Meanwhile unemployment is at a low 3 percent.
A little under 85 percent of the population identifies as Caucasian. But that doesn’t necessarily give you a picture of the city’s diversity. Sioux Falls has been a landing spot for refugees since World War II. In fact, there are 60 different languages spoken by kids that attend the local school district.