While South Dakota's population center's ranked high in some sub-categories, it was neighboring counties that led the state in a national ranking for overall investment in communities. The financial firm Smart Asset researched four factors for each county in the nation and created state and national rankings.
Here are South Dakota's top 10 locales for investment, based on the equally weighted categories of GDP growth, business growth, new building permits and municipal bonds per capita.
- Hanson County, west of Sioux Falls
- Custer County, south of Rapid City
- McCook County, adjacent to Sioux Falls
- Union County, in extreme southeast South Dakota
- Butte County, experiences a high volume of traffic related to the North Dakota oil fields
- Lake County, home to Dakota State University
- Aurora County, county seat is Plankinton
- Minnehaha County, home to Sioux Falls
- Jerauld County, county seat is Wessington Springs
- Kingsbury County, county seat is De Smet
While Hanson County recorded no new businesses in the last two years, it led the state for the amount of municipal bonds taken out per capita in the last five years -- $107,876. McCook was second in this category at $76,939. By comparison, several counties had no municipal bonds, while the high-population counties of Minnehaha and Pennington had $1,792 and $1,592 repsectively.
And while Hanson County ranked 24th among the state's 66 counties for building permits, at six per 1,000 homes, Custer County led this category with 24.9 permits for every 1,000 homes. Union County ranked No. 2, with 17 permits per 1,000 homes, and Minnehaha County ranked third, with 15.9 permits per 1,000 homes.
Some of the state's smallest counties fill nearly every slot in the top 10 for the category of business growth, with Mellette County ranking No. 1 after logging 17.4 percent growth. Harding County, just across the border from North Dakota's Bakken oil region, came in No. 2 with 14.7 percent business growth. And Oglala Lakota County (formerly Shannon County) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation took the No. 3 spot with 12.9 percent business growth. Of note, Minnehaha County logged a 1.1 percent decline in business growth.
In the category of GDP growth, South Dakota's population centers rank in order - Minnehaha County, home to the state's largest city of Sioux Falls, ranks No. 1. Pennington County, home to No. 2 Rapid City, is second. Brown County, home to No. 3 Aberdeen, is third. Then it's No. 4 Lincoln County, also home to part of Sioux Falls and bedroom communities, and No. 5 Coddington County, home to Watertown.
They are followed by Lawrence County, home to fast-growing Spearfish and Black Hills State University plus Deadwood and Lead, then Brookings County, home to Brookings and South Dakota State University, and Davison County, home to Mitchell, Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Technical Institue.
Rounding out the top 10 for GDP are Yankton County, home to Yankton and Yankton College, and Meade County, home to Sturgis and the fast-growing Interstate 90 corridor that includes Summerst, Piedmont and Black Hawk.
Nationally, five of the top ten counties for incoming investment are in North Dakota's Bakken oil region, two are in eastern Texas, two are in Georgia and one in California, No. 8 Los Angeles County.
Of note, seven of the top ten counties for municipal bonds are in states that neighbor South Dakota -- four in Minnesota, two in North Dakota and one in Nebraska. Four of the top ten for business growth are in North Dakota's Bakken oil region.