With the right investments in technology, rural communities could use this moment to remake their futures. One small town shows how.
Signs direct visitors to Mitchell, S.D., for hundreds of miles around. The town, which is a bit more than an hour west of Sioux Falls along Interstate 90, is home to the Corn Palace, a classic roadside attraction that in a non-pandemic year attracts about a half-million visitors. Enticed by the endless string of billboards, weary travelers pull off the interstate to take a look at the palace’s onion-shaped domes and corn-colored murals depicting bison, Mount Rushmore and George McGovern, the late senator and long-ago presidential candidate who was a native son of Mitchell.
Casual visitors would hardly have reason to guess that by stopping in Mitchell they’re also visiting one of the most successful technology hubs of any small city in America. Agriculture is the area’s leading industry — fitting for the home of the Corn Palace — while manufacturing also remains important, with local companies making fans and trailers. But Mitchell has also fostered a tech cluster in a way that is unusual in rural America.
Read the full story in the November issue of Government Technology.