The grand ol' dame of Sioux Falls

Sylvia Henkin, 92, moved to Sioux Falls, S.D. in 1994, and watched the town multiply 10 times in size. 

Sylvia Henkin, 92, and her husband owned one of the first radio stations in Sioux Falls, S.D. Nowadays, she's referred to as the 'Grand ol' dame' of the city.

This final note today, a thought or two about how we've been spending the week. Because American Futures isn't your ordinary series. It's not a handful of stories on a single topic. It doesn't have a narrative arc, the way editors like. It's more a collection of experiences.

Jim and Deb Fallows -- and I, from time to time -- are gonna go out and look around, talk to people, and tell you what they tell us. And then, by the end of it, maybe a year or more from now, you'll have a pretty good sense of what America and the American economy look like.

Some earlier reporting highlights:

  • Starting in the 1940s, and increasingly steadily since the Vietnam War,Sioux Falls has been a prime relocation center for Lutheran Social Services, an agency that provides social services for displaced populations and refugees. Sioux Falls is ideal because there are plenty of jobs – the city boasts a 3 percent unemployment rate.
  • Keith Alverson is a sixth-generation farmer who lives 45 minutes outside of Sioux Falls. The corn he grows looks for all the world like what you’d find at the super market but the stuff he grows, No. 2 Dent, isn’t the sweet corn you or I would eat. It’s been grown for decades as livestock feed. But now, "most of our corn goes to the local ethanol plant," says Alverson.

And we'll leave you with this -- the best interview I did out in Sioux Falls.

Sylvia Henkin, 92, moved to Sioux Falls in 1944 and she and her husband helped build one of the city's major radio stations. 

Henkin's maybe the best interview of all time, really. Listen to the conversation by clicking the play button above -- or hear the full song, by clicking below.

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About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Sylvia Henkin, 92, and her husband owned one of the first radio stations in Sioux Falls, S.D. Nowadays, she's referred to as the 'Grand ol' dame' of the city.

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