Crisman is new EDC director

Gray Hughes

Hill City native Angela Crisman wanted a new way to give back to the town.

She had worked for the Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce in the past and had many different volunteering experiences, but she wanted to get involved again.

So she applied to be the newest executive director of the Hill City Economic Development Council (EDC) and was hired.

“This was a good way to get involved again,” she said. “This will be a good focus and will allow me to get to know the business owners better. I know most of them, but there are some I don’t know.”

For those Crisman does not know, she said she wants to establish relationships that will be mutually beneficial to all involved. She said she wants to learn the goals, ideas and intentions for both their businesses and Hill City.

Crisman said if she and the EDC can help with a business’s vision, they will.

“We want the (EDC) to be the force and the drive of Hill City, to be the economic engine, open doors and make things happen,” she said. “That comes with asking businesses questions.”

The EDC has a five-step approach to improve the business climate in Hill City.

The first is leadership development targeted toward younger people.

The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce has something similar to this, Crisman said, and she wants the EDC’s program to be open to the Southern Hills.

The purpose of the program, she said, is to help high school-aged individuals learn how to make a city grow, what they could do within their cities, why the city is here to begin with and things they might not know are happening within their city.

The second step the EDC wants to take to help businesses would be a business retention and expansion program.

“That’s where we’re going to be doing the business retention meetings with owners to understand their business, find their little niche, find out the history of the name or why they decided to open,” Crisman said.

Another focus on expansion and retention of businesses would be to get more businesses that Crisman describes as “experiential tourism.”

One example of this would be ax throwing.

“Just stuff like that to bring our history back,” she said. “Something with tin, gold panning right in town. Just to keep people in town a little longer is what we’re looking for.”

There are also stores that Crisman said Hill City could have such as a book store or a flower store that the EDC would like to bring to town.

The third focus of the EDC is to establish a convention center.

This, Crisman said, is the main focus of EDC president Bob Lowrey. The EDC wants to help bring a place where 100-250 people can have a convention and to bring people to Hill City during the offseason.

There are a lot of people calling the chamber, Crisman said, who want to have a convention in Hill City, but Hill City doesn’t have a convention space yet.

“We need people to stay open longer and then find those places for (convention attendees) to stay, play, eat and shop,” Crisman said.

The EDC needs to focus on that in town so wives or husbands whose spouses are at the conference have a place to go.

“We’re not going to say ‘no,’ because we can make this happen,” Crisman said.

The fourth focus of the EDC will be creating more self-sustainability.

This, Crisman said, will have to do with membership dues, which will be changed starting Oct. 1. The EDC is going to do a tiered membership.

“So I and a couple of members will go around talking to every business with their business engagement meeting. …We want to spend an hour, hour and a half with the owner,” Crisman said.

As part of its focused campaign, the EDC will try to do one meeting a week starting in September. The EDC’s first meetings will be with the seasonal businesses with the hope of having the seasonal businesses stay open longer.

The fifth and final focus of the EDC is to remain focused on affordable housing.

The EDC was largely responsible for the Bull Run attainable housing development, which, Crisman said, will be a great addition to Hill City.

Attainable and affordable housing, she added, has been needed in Hill City ever since Crisman was a child, and the population since then has doubled, Crisman said.

“But the affordable housing is proving successful and the Hill City EDC will not say, ‘no, that cannot happen,’ but rather, ‘yes, that can happen,” Crisman said. “There were a lot of no’s when we started. But it’s happening now.”

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