Talent Talks: Connecting Talent & Businesses Virtually

This month’s edition officially kicks off a new style of sharing more personalized perspectives for leaders within our community. Starting with Mark Cotter, Director of Public Works Administration for the City of Sioux Falls, and then Michelle Klobassa, Senior Architect for TSP, Inc., to Alex Deeter, a recent graduate of Southeast Tech and a newly hired civil technician for DGR Engineering, we dive deeper into how their interests have contributed to many community projects, such as the restoration of The State Theater on Phillips Avenue. 

We are also introducing new ways for us to support your employment efforts. Over the last few weeks, the talent engagement processes for businesses has shifted from in-person to virtual meetings via webinars and other technology tools. In the process, our businesses and our educational institutions have efficiently demonstrated the ability to adapt, to be nimble and to be continually supportive of our community.

In doing so, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation has also pivoted to enhance its talent programming initiatives to solidify the connectivity between talent and employers, to employ technology to engage our future workforce, and to continually share the most current and relevant best practices for workforce with all of our community partners. 

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Early career spotlight: Emerging engineer earned debt-free education thanks to Build Dakota

Alex Deeter’s career started in a fourth grade classroom. Then he decided to learn something new himself and enter an entirely new career field – civil engineering and land surveying.

A Nebraska native and Concordia University graduate, he moved to Sioux Falls after graduation to teach at Sioux Falls Lutheran School. While he liked kids and teaching, his summer job in construction also held appeal.

“My grandpa was a contractor, so I was always around the construction industry and that ultimately pulled me away from teaching,” he said. “My dad is a teacher. He teachers physics and chemistry, so I like that too, which is partially why I like civil engineering. There’s a lot of math and physics involved. So land surveying is kind of a perfect match. I get to be outside when it’s nice or inside using my math background and be connected to the construction side of things.”

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Executive profile: For Public Works leader, building a career has meant building a city

In one moment, as a kid, Mark Cotter made a choice that led to a career.

One of his five siblings brought home a book of college majors, and as a young Cotter flipped through it, he made an instant decision.

“It said roads, bridges, pipelines,” he said. “And I told my sister, ‘That’s exactly what I want to do.’ And I went into civil engineering. It was honestly that simple. I went to college and never looked back.”

Growing up on a farm outside Chester, S.D., he had been inspired by what he saw happening around him.

“When you grow up in the country, you’re watching your neighbors work the fields, combine, harvest and you’re around a lot of large equipment. And I was drawn to it and wanted to find a way to still be in it,” he said.

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From sixth graders to chemical engineers: Workforce development STEM program connects kids with careers

Call this a formula for workforce development success: The Sioux Falls Development Foundation and POET teamed up recently to provide a memorable lesson for Brandon Valley sixth graders.

The program included a lesson on POET itself, the careers available there and a hands-on activity that introduced concepts of chemical engineering.

“It’s an excellent way to get kids exposed to careers and opportunities out there and tie that to what they’re doing in school,” said Bob Mundt, Development Foundation president and CEO, who rolled up his sleeves and helped students through the hands-on activity.

“I was amazed how the kids took to it and took to their roles and responsibilities,” he said. “This is early-stage workforce development – it’s not for next week – but five to 10 years from now, we’re still going to need them entering fields like this.”

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Mid-career spotlight: Architect charts successful career, finds personal fulfillment in Sioux Falls

Michelle Klobassa was looking to spread her wings, as the saying goes.

It took the North Dakota native to Montana as a recent high school graduate, where an accelerated architecture program at Montana State University prepared her for a career.

“After I got my master’s degree, I realized I really wanted to get back closer to family, and I had one of my sisters living in Sioux Falls,” Klobassa said. “She was a teacher, and she said, ‘Why don’t you think about living in Sioux Falls?’ So I did.”

She was 23, and found a job as an architectural graduate with a small group of architects, “which was a great blessing to me, and I had a great mentor who was an amazing boss,” she said.

A few years later, in 2007, her firm was acquired by TSP – a multi-state full-service firm based in Sioux Falls offering engineering, architecture, planning and interior design services.

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Early career spotlight: Marketer impacts success of Sioux Falls businesses, youth

From promoting Sioux Falls to businesses and workers to coordinating groundbreakings and many other duties in between, Megan Jansick is a one-woman marketing operation for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. But what distinguishes Jansick’s impact is her passion for improving the community that she’s come to call home.

Originally from Rapid City, Jansick planted roots in Sioux Falls in 2012.

“I am not originally from here, but I certainly have grown to adore this community. As many have referred to it before, it really is a hidden gem,” she said.

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