Northern State and Aberdeen community look to further mutually beneficial relationship

Northern State University has a large impact on the Aberdeen community, but a forum was held Wednesday to figure out how to strengthen that relationship.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:28 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Northern State University has a large impact on the Aberdeen community, but a forum was held Wednesday to figure out how to strengthen that relationship.

During the ‘Town and Gown’ forum, community leaders that spoke had no doubt that there is a mutually beneficial relationship between NSU and the Hub City.

”There’s just such a great relationship, and it’s because the communities engage and involve. They invest in Northern, and Northern is turning around with their students and investing back in the community,” said NSU Foundation President Zach Flakus.

For the community, Northern State provides a new workforce.

”It’s key and important, especially in today’s realm of workforce challenges, where you have to have a viable workforce. Having a resource like Northern State University in our community is absolutely key and vital to sustaining and also growing Aberdeen,” said Aberdeen Development Corporation CEO Mike Bockorny.

In return, the city of Aberdeen invests back into Northern’s growth.

”With their latest campaign, which included a football stadium, a science center and the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the city contributed over $5 million over a ten-year period,” said Mayor Travis Schaunaman.

One of the concerns at the forum, however, was retaining those students to stay in Aberdeen after graduation. Attendees voiced concerns about the lack of activities and businesses that appeal to young adults.

“People in our crowd brought up the fact that sometimes, there’s gaps in the activities for kids that are college-aged in particular. So, we always look to make this place as good as it can be for everybody to live, whether you’ve got a family, whether you’re starting a business, and college students in particular,” said Schaunaman.

Bockorny says businesses have been implemented to help with the gap, but students might not be utilizing all Aberdeen has to offer.

”One of the biggest areas of room for improvement is really retaining the students as they graduate here. In a community like Aberdeen, we essentially offer and have so many of the different amenities and livability standards that these kids are looking for, they just don’t necessarily know it,” said Bockorny.

To further economic growth, the Aberdeen Development Corporation will be sending out a survey in early 2023 to see what kind of businesses Aberdeen residents want to see implemented in the community.

”You’re going to see some additional quality of life enhancements,” said Bockorny. “From our perspective at the Development Coorporation, what new businesses can we bring in to help fill some of those gaps that we currently have right now in our community?”