When people around the country think about South Dakota, the first image that comes to mind is probably Mount Rushmore. Though we’re proud to be the home of Gutzon Borglum’s masterpiece, the truth is we are much more than the stone-carved presidential tribute. South Dakota is a great place to live and work.

First, we have a low unemployment rate at 3 percent, compared to the national rate of 4.4 percent. We are a state of hard workers and productivity of our workers is high. In fact, many multi-state employers tell us their South Dakota location is their most productive.

Second, the tax burden in South Dakota is low. We are among only a few states without an income tax. We also have no corporate income tax, no business inventory tax, no personal property tax and no inheritance tax. This puts more money in the pockets of businesses and citizens, creating a more favorable environment for growth.

Third, not only do people keep more of the money they earn in South Dakota, but that money buys more here. Type “Regional Price Parity” into your web browser and you will find the U.S. Department of Commerce report that shows South Dakota is among the states that experience the lowest cost of living. We don’t spend as much money on housing, insurance, food and the other daily needs.

Now some people will say, “There may a low tax burden and low cost of living, but I won’t get paid as much if I live in South Dakota.” Actually, when it comes to per capita personal income, we fare pretty well. Nationally, we rank in the top half and do better than states like Texas and Florida. If you adjust the per capita personal income to consider the low cost of living and the lack of income taxes, we rank sixth in the nation.

A person who earns $45,000 annually in South Dakota is actually better off than the person living in New York or Los Angeles who makes $65,000 per year. When factoring in after-tax wages and cost of living, the South Dakotan who makes $20,000 less still has a greater purchasing power.

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Beyond the financial reasons, though, South Dakota is a great place to live. Our communities are safe, our schools are high quality and people are friendly. We also have clean air, beautiful scenery and wonderful recreational opportunities.

I know I’m lucky to have spent most of my life in South Dakota. In fact, it took a multi-year absence from the state to help me realize just how lucky I am and how good we have it here. Now, I wouldn’t trade this place, with its wide open spaces and down-to-earth people, for anything.

Dennis Daugaard is the governor of South Dakota.

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