According to the 2010 Census population data for the United States, the Midwest region was the slowest growing of the four Census regions, at a 3.9% increase overall. South Dakota led the Midwest for population with an increase of 7.9%, while the lowest was the battered state of Michigan at -0.6%. These numbers seem to suggest a shift from the Rust Belt to the Great Plains.
This is more apparent when considering CNN Money’s list of the top 100 best cities to live in for 2010. Four cities represented the Dakotas on this list while only one city, Ann Arbor, stood for Michigan at number 46. The four cities from the Dakotas were Bismarck, ND at 74; Sioux Falls, SD at 77; Fargo, ND at 86; and finally Grand Forks, ND at 97.
The odds seem to be against the growing state of South Dakota when compared to the once-great Michigan. Michigan has 32 Fortune 500 companies (the largest being GM, Ford, and Dow), a notable IT strength, three well-known universities (University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University), and is one of the biggest leaders of industrial research and development. However, Michigan’s weaknesses lie in its disintegrating manufacturing industries whereas South Dakota has attained a more promising outlook.
South Dakota’s major city is Sioux Falls in Lincoln county, which has been named one of the “best counties to find a job” with a 67% increase in job growth in the last decade. Sioux Falls has been named one of the “best places to start a business” by CNN where operating a business costs an estimated 45% less there than it does in New York City. It also boasts a crime rate that is half the national average, is home to offices of many financial giants including Citibank and Wells Fargo that come to the state for its slackened usury laws and positive banking regulations, and has some of the region’s leading hospitals. A determined arts scene and a strong retail sector round out the package.
Can Sioux Falls be compared to the crumbling Detroit? When considering Sioux Falls to be the major hub of its region (the most proximate major cities are Omaha and Minneapolis, both over 150 miles away) it’s no wonder that many people are flocking there to be a part of its thriving economy that can’t be found for miles. Detroit, on the other hand, is a homogenous product in a competitive market. Other Rust Belt cities find themselves in a corresponding situation, offering a similar lifestyle while depending on declining industries.