PODCAST: The story of Sioux Falls and American Futures

Keith Alverson, a sixth-generation farmer outside of Sioux Falls, S.D., talks to Kai Ryssdal about the technology he uses to farm corn.

The hardest part about telling the story of Sioux Falls, S.D., was figuring out which part to tell first.

The city has a strong economy -- the unemployment rate is at 3 percent. They’ve got white-collar jobs that are relatively new additions to the area (Citibank’s only been there for about three decades). But just outside of downtown is a meatpacking plant that’s provided blue collar jobs for over 100 years. An even older industry that still powers Sioux Falls? Farming -- the city is surrounded by corn fields that go on for miles.

But at the same time, the city has a surprisingly national reach. Companies in Sioux Falls make food that ends up on your dining room table, in hotel breakfasts, and school lunches. The legislation their state government has passed has meant changes in the way credit card companies across the country do business -- and that means you pay a higher interest rate because of it. And the satellite technology one Sioux Falls company has developed means farmers can drop fertilizer directly on top of the corn seed they planted weeks before -- growing more, with less.

Take a listen to the full story of Sioux Falls, our first stop on our American Futures tour with The Atlantic’s Jim and Deb Fallows, and Esri. We’re exploring the way the real American economy works today, telling it through the voices of the people who live it.

About the author

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

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