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August 11, 2017 10:00 PM

More Than The Home Of The Corn Palace

Mitchell, SD

It's known nationwide as the home of the "World's Only" Corn Palace, but now Mitchell is broadening its horizons. Over the last few years, the city has been making some big changes and officials are planning even more. 

"If you say you are from the Corn Palace or from Mitchell and they say 'ohh ya the Corn Palace', but then they don't know anything else about Mitchell," Mitchell City Councilor Steve Rice said.

That is why city officials in Mitchell have started "FOCUS 2020", a strategic plan aimed at improving Mitchell's tourism appeal and making it more than just the 'Home of the World's Only Corn Palace.' 

"Areas they looked at were regional development, healthcare, our lake, land use and zoning, and education, those types of things," Rice said.

Implementing the changes proposed in FOCUS 2020 has been in the works for a few years now and Executive Director For Mitchell Area Development, Bryan Hisel, says the improvements are already beginning to show.

"People driving down I-90 know that this isn't the same Mitchell that it was 20 years ago," Executive Director for Mitchell Area Development Bryan Hisel said.

Hisel calls it the 'I-90 experience.'

"A new hospital, or I should say a health care services. Dakota Wesleyan, the Mitchell Tech Campus is there. The outward signs of what you do as a growing health community have been developed along the interstate," Hisel said.

The hospital isn't finished with its expansion plans.

"Avera's long-term plan, we built the new Grassland Center out by the interstate and they plan to put more buildings out there," Rice said.

Educational expansion in Mitchell involves more than new construction.

"Dakota Wesleyan and MTI really focused on what changes they could make, campus changes, how they recruited, what programs did they offer and I think both of them ended up very successful," Rice said.

Meeting the goals of FOCUS 2020 has had its challenges.

"The biggest problem that we face is telling the community that we are doing it," Hisel said.

Hisel says he'd like to see more community members have gotten involved in the planning process 

"Our experience was that people don't pay much attention until you go to implement," Hisel said.

That's why the strategic planning committee has turned to the Internet for feedback, using social media to reach a larger audience. 

"Our website for FOCUS 2020 is still live. We are trying to tell people that we are working on a strategic plan and that the check marks on the accomplishments are getting done," Hisel said.

As more projects are completed, the group is already looking ahead.

"I think we are rolling and we have actually discussed it from the city standpoint that are we at the point that we need to look at the next iteration of the next long-term plan," Rice said.

For this next phase, the committee wants everyone in the community to be involved from the very beginning.

"I think we got the momentum going, throw those ideas out there now let people see them. If you are opposed to something or its potential we wanna know now," Hisel said.

If you want to get involved with the changes coming to Mitchell or even just want to see what's being planned for the city, you can see it all on the FOCUS 2020 website.

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