This is the third post of series in which we ask community leaders about the community they live in and share their answers with you. We read what their favorite spaces are in the city and why and what issues their city faces from their point of view. By engaging community leaders, designers and communities can see the spaces in a city from a different point of view: the people that are making decisions and representing you.
#LOVermillion is more than a hashtag………
It’s a way of life in Vermillion!
by Nate Welch, President & CEO of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company
Vermillion, South Dakota is a little ruby of a town located in the far southeast corner of the state. Thirty years before South Dakota became a state, Vermillion was established as a town at the confluence of the Vermillion River and the mighty Missouri River in 1859 and became home to the flagship University of South Dakota only three years later.
Vermillion is tightly teamed with the University, which provides great cultural and sporting events, and the town provides a welcoming environment for the thousands of students that have enrolled and made their mark on Vermillion over the years.
Vermillion means “red”, the university colors are red and white as are the high school colors. We love our red and the guy that is tasked with buffing the luster on this gem is Nate Welch, the President & CEO of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company (VCDC), a position he has held for over five years. Nate is originally from Sioux Falls and holds degrees from the University of Nebraska and the University of Sioux Falls. He has a strong management background but a fun fact about Nate is that he was a mascot for Nebraska. He always brings that energy and rah-rah spirit to his position. We caught up, recently, with Nate and talked to him about what makes Vermillion such a special place.
What are your five favorites spaces in Vermillion?
#1. McVicker Plaza: It was exciting to be part of the recently completed renovation of a historic downtown storefront for VCDC activities. Working with Koch Hazard Architects and Puetz Construction, the space was intentionally created to focus on dreams, passion and ideas. It pays homage to the past, while providing space to build the future, right here, right now.
#2. Coyote Twin Movie Theatre: When no one would buy our movie theatre, a group of community members established a non-profit agency to save it, creating space for special projects supporting arts for youth and amateurs while still providing blockbusters. And, the popcorn is amazing!
#3. University of South Dakota Campus: Couldn’t pick just one. This is my running route starting at the ambitious addition to the National Music Museum, past a multitude of buildings that reflect the university’s history, ending at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center complex where they are turning the fan experience on its head by putting luxury seats courtside, close to the action. There is always something new happening on campus that enhances life in Vermillion.
#4. Five O’Clock Adventures: Again, not just one. We have great restaurants in Vermillion, but I appreciate the spots that allow for business connections and camaraderie. The Ronan Room at Red Steakhouse, with its fireplace, is one. The outdoor spaces at the Dakota Brick House and Carey’s Bar come to mind as well as the rooftop patio at the Old Lumber Company. These spots are a bit different from the popular campus bars and I love them.
#5. My Back Deck: Sure, this is personal. My deck is perfectly angled so any time of year my family can enjoy sunrises and some of the famous South Dakota sunsets. This location was only made possible by a recent housing development called Bliss Pointe which features individually designed homes in a variety of price ranges.
What are some of the challenges that Vermillion has?
Like everywhere, we are navigating this pandemic, assessing its length and the impact it is going to have on our businesses. We are working to support our local businesses and keep the community informed on developments.
We are learning to collaborate into the next generation. We have to continue to evolve in supporting all of our parts and to remember to be good to each other.
We need to nurture and protect the trusting partnership we have with the University. It hasn’t always been this way and we have worked hard to develop the current collaborative relationship that now exists at many levels and we must continue these efforts.
Nate Welch is the President & CEO of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company in Vermillion, SD. As the head of the VCDC, Nate helps direct the Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Tourism industries in Vermillion. Nate is a Sioux Falls native. He has degrees in Mass Communication, Broadcasting and Sociology from the University of Nebraska and holds a double major in Management and Entrepreneurial studies from the University of Sioux Falls, which fuels Nate’s passion for fair and ethical business practices. Nate’s varied experience before coming to Vermillion includes a stint as broadcast reporter and anchor as well as General Manager of the Sioux Falls Canaries baseball team. He even ran for State Senate. In Vermillion he is seen everywhere, even on stage with Vermillion Community Theatre. Joining him on his deck is his wife and three children.
Are you/do you know of a leader that loves their community? We want to hear from you! Send nominations and contact information to email@example.com. Representing Cities We Love is a series that explores the cities in South Dakota from the perspective of the leaders that live there.
Sandra Lea Dickenson, AIA Emeritus, has been a licensed architect since 1972 when women only represented 2% of the profession. She was AIA South Dakota president in 2007 and served on the national AIA Strategic Council from 2016-18. Sandy keeps trying to retire in Vermillon, but isn’t finding it easy. Traveling is her passion. She has visited all 50 states and 30 countries. She and her retired Army husband have three grown daughters and three grandchildren.