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Congratulations Graduates! And Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

Updated May 03, 2022
Professional headshot of Peggy Schlechter

Peggy Schlechter

SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist

High school graduate watching a rural sunset.
We know South Dakota’s young people are among the best and brightest. Courtesy: Canva

Congratulations to all the young people celebrating graduations this spring, whether is it a high school graduation or a college graduation. You have a reason to be proud. You have dedicated years to learning, and now it is time to go out and spread your wings! Yes, this is an exciting time for you. There are so many options! You can continue your education. You can get a job. You can start a business. You can enter the military. And then, remember, once you have had some of the adventures you always dreamed of, you can go home.

Home. Doesn’t that sound like a great place? If you have ever listened to the song “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, you may begin to understand what I am trying to say. I know the song is old – but it still has a great message. It was written because of Jon Bon Jovi’s personal passion for his community. The song starts out with the singer trying to get out of this place and running away from the only thing he’s ever known. After being there and doing that, he realizes that he is a hometown boy, and that there is only one place they call him one of their own… and that’s alright.

We want you here! Why? Because of your fresh ideas, your energy and your brains! We know our young people are among the best and brightest, and keeping you here or getting you to return would make our great state and our communities even better!

Your connections to your hometown are so important. This is where your family and friends live and where everyone knows you. Sometimes the idea that everyone knows you is not seen as positive. However, once you live in a place where no one knows you, and maybe it seems like no one cares, all of the sudden, living near those who do know you becomes much more interesting.

"We know our young people are among the best and brightest, and keeping you here or getting you to return would make our great state and our communities even better!"

— Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist
High school graduate watching a rural sunset.
A report from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranked South Dakota as #3 under the Small Business Policy Index. Courtesy: Canva

And if you are worried about jobs, South Dakota was determined to be the #1 state in which to find a job, according to a June 2021 article from WalletHub. All 50 states were examined across 35 key indicators, and South Dakota landed at the top in the areas of highest employment growth and shortest time spend commuting. If you have ever driven to a job that was only a few miles away, but took over an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you know how important less commuting time can be. Our state also landed in the top 5 in categories of lowest unemployment rate and most job opportunities.

Visit the Dakota Roots website. Dakota Roots is an initiative to help grow our South Dakota workforce, and it helps people who want to relocate to South Dakota connect with job openings, moving resources and more. As you visit this website, you can read some real-life stories of people who know South Dakota is where they wanted to be and how they make a great life here.

With our business climate, you may decide to be your own boss and own your own business. That could be easier here in South Dakota than you think. A report from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council listed South Dakota as #3 in rankings under the Small Business Policy Index. And if you are thinking of starting an online business, South Dakota ranked #7 according to digital.com. In that study, South Dakota had the 2nd best business tax climate and the #1 best state for business regulations, where state-imposed regulations are few and far between when compared with the other 49 states.

Let’s face it, if you enjoy the outdoors, we have some of the best hunting and fishing in the country. We have an abundance of state and national parks to enjoy. And how about that clear sky that allows you to actually see those bright stars overhead twinkling?

We want to keep our young people in South Dakota – or have you return once you have completed your education and lived in some of the places you always thought you wanted to live. Yes, we would really like to have you live in your hometown or a nearby community.

Congratulations again on your graduation. We want to say good luck, but not good-bye! It’s alright to come home. When you’re ready, we will be here with open arms!