STURGIS | The Sturgis-Meade County area is known for catering to lots of visitors, particularly motorcyclists in July and August.
But now there is vibrant economic activity all year-round, with families moving in and new construction going on.
Much of the county’s overall growth is centered from Rapid City and Black Hawk, straddling the border of Meade and Pennington counties northward to Summerset Piedmont and Sturgis.
“This whole I-90 corridor just continues to explode,” said Pat Kurtenbach, executive director of the Sturgis Economic Development Corporation.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that Meade County's population has grown by 10.1 percent since April 1, 2010.
Kurtenbach cites figures of 7.8 percent growth of Meade County since 2012, with projections of another 4.6 percent coming to the area by 2022. The postal zip code of 57785 — encompassing Sturgis and outlying areas including Boulder Canyon subdivisions — and Blucksberg, now shows a population of more than 10,000, according to census and Labor department figures.
Construction activity is also booming in the area, she said.
First-quarter 2018 building permit activity in Sturgis totaled $3.4 million, with much of the activity coming with new housing. “We’re talking about more than $1 million a month in what would normally be an off-season,” Kurtenbach said.
In Summerset, another $2.1 million in building activity over the same period is underway, making $5.5 million for just those two areas of the county. “For this time of year, this is really healthy growth, almost unheard of,” she said.
Crews are putting the finishes touches on the new Stagebarn Middle School building in Summerset, slated to open for classes this fall. The new school mirrors the uptick in school enrollment, among elementary and middle school students in Piedmont and Sturgis.
Sturgis Elementary, less than a decade old, already had to move fifth-grade students to the renovated top floor of the R.B. Williams Building, a former middle school converted to school administration offices.
“That explosion of the younger students has been going on, and I don’t think it’s going to decrease any,” Kurtenbach said. “That gave them a little bit of breathing room there (at the elementary building), but I think it will soon be at capacity again."
Housing construction in Sturgis continues apace, including new single-family homes and townhouses being built in the Dolan Creek, Palisades, Canyon View and Wildflower development around Sturgis.
In her eight years as SEDC director, Kurtenbach has seen a shift in the dynamic of Sturgis and Meade County. Instead of her seeking new developers to come to the area, they are now making inquiries of her.
“We’ve got developers coming in. Two years ago we didn’t know them and they didn’t know us,” Kurtenbach said. “They’ve taken the risk and the opportunity, and it’s paid off for them.”