Add Amie Martens and her fiance, Chuck, to the growing number of people who moved to Sioux Falls for a job.
In their case, it was two jobs – both at Hy-Vee. Chuck is a commercial baker, and Amie is the general manager of Wahlburgers, the restaurant inside Hy-Vee.
“Our first interview was here in Sioux Falls, and we took it,” she said.
That was last summer, months after she joined Hy-Vee in Nebraska following a career that included everything from call center roles to trucking.
“I’d been to Sioux Falls a number of times trucking – I’ve been to all but three states,” Martens said. “And living here has been great.”
From the start, their employer and the community have stepped up, she said. At one point, when they struggled to find housing after one opportunity fell through, “Hy-Vee actually took care of us until we were able to find an apartment suitable for our family,” she said.
“We have a kayak, and one of the managers at Hy-Vee said we could store it in their garage, and at work I have a great group of employees.”
The couple represents a growing number of new Sioux Falls residents. The city’s population estimates reflect about 14,000 new residents in the past two years. Data from First Dakota Title compiled by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation offers additional insight.
A sampling of change of addresses shows more than 100 new residents from the Phoenix metro area, 65 from two counties in the Los Angeles area, 41 from the Las Vegas metro area, about the same amount from the Seattle area, Colorado Springs and the Chicago area.
Regionally, new residents have come from the Twin Cities, southwest Minnesota, Sioux City, northwest Iowa, Omaha, Fargo, Des Moines and Lincoln, Nebraska – in that order of volume.
“Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive,” Martens said. “It’s completely different than Omaha and Lincoln. Those are college towns, and the political environment feels different. This has more of a hometown feel. When I’ve reached out to the community online about things to do, they were great. Part of my job involves hosting fundraisers, and people gave me ideas above and beyond what I expected. Everyone has been extremely welcoming.”
As a person who lives with autism, she said she finds that especially powerful.
“I’m very open about how I communicate a little differently,” she said. “My employees, my co-workers and the community has been overwhelmingly accepting of that. I’m not shy about it. But everyone has been so loving and welcoming, it’s been amazing.”
They now have an apartment in central Sioux Falls with a rent she said would be twice as much where she used to live in Nebraska. Chuck’s 8-year-old daughter has found a good fit in school, she said, “and we’ve seen so much cool stuff downtown. We love the cotton candy store. We love our neighborhood. It’s quiet and within walking distance to so much, at least two or three parks.”
The family’s experience illustrates the broader trend the Development Foundation identified, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development.
“People move for so many reasons, but careers are definitely a driver, and it’s wonderful to see how this family has found a fit with one of our largest employers,” she said. “Amie is absolutely right that this is an incredibly welcoming and inclusive community, and I think that’s why we’ve seen people embrace living here despite moving from such a variety of places nationwide.”