“We are a nonprofit that works with rural leaders to help grow their capacity and help their community thrive,” said Dakota Resources president Joe Bartmann.
Working with primarily economic development organizations and directors, Dakota Resources helps to foster growth in rural communities across the nation from South Dakota to Georgia and even Alaska.
“There’s a great opportunity for rural communities that’s been accelerated since COVID to really make themselves a place where people who can work remotely and choose to live anywhere can decide to live,” said Bartmann.
To achieve this rural growth, they build leadership and the financial resources to empower the vibrant future that particular place strives for.
“The only ‘should’ we give communities is that they should get together as a community and decide what the future they want to create is,” said Bartmann. “It’s different in Wagner versus Faulkton versus Sturgis.”
The Dakota Resources team uses their own office relations to get into the mindset of a rural community in order to better help them reach their goals
“We operate in a distributed power structure because that’s how communities operate,” Bartmann explained. “We’re trying to learn how to help communities by operating that way ourselves and seeing what’s hard about it and what needs more clarity.”
“A lot of voices are either intentionally or unintentionally getting left out of this conversation. Our biggest push is to let everybody be involved.” -Joe Bartmann
People live in different areas for different reasons. Because every community is different in their goals, interests, and developmental desires, the organization offers different outlets for each to reach their goals.
“We have five different programs for people to raise their hands in different ways,” said Bartmann.
The five programs are Community Development Loans, Community Coaching, Rural X, Learning Network, and New Markets Tax Credits.
Community Development Loans
The main role of Dakota Resources is to help finance economic development organizations in various rural communities.
“Our work there is to help them make projects happen, but also to help them build their financial capacity so that organization can last generations,” said Bartmann.
“With Community Coaching, we go out into their community and show them,” said Bartmann.
This, too, looks different for each client.
“It could be anywhere from a one-time community listening session to a strategic planning retreat with the board to a two-or three-year intensive process where we’re there working with different teams on different projects and anything in between,” explained Bartmann.
Typically the small group they work with is either the chamber of commerce, a development corporation, or from the city’s employees.
WHERE HAS DAKOTA RESOURCES BEEN?
*This is a short list of a few of the communities the organization has served through the various programs.
+ Adams County, ND
+ Arlington, SD
+ Berea, KY
+ Bethel, AK
+ Chamberlain Area, SD
+ Farmington, MO
+ Grant County, SD
+ Kewa Pueblo, NM
+ Faulk County, SD
+ Auburn, AL
+ Redmond, OR
+ Canton, SD
+ Toppenish, WA
Rural X is an event that encourages anyone to join.
“That is more about connecting individuals of any background who want to learn about community development, connect with other people, and steal their ideas for their communities,” said Bartmann. “It’s focused around a one-to-two-day event.”
This is a conference-like experience with more people than the other programs.
Rural X Art
During a past Rural X event, one of the keynote speakers worked with over 100 people within a community to create an eight-foot by four-foot mural that was then brought around to banks that had sponsored the event. With the artist’s permission, the team cut three pieces from the art, and they are displayed in the Dakota Resources office.
Dakota Resources has an online platform called Thriverr, in which community leaders can grow their own network as well as manage their own tasks.
“They can do their own thing, but they can also connect with each other and share research, ideas, and questions,” said Bartmann.
He adds that many of these leaders are the only people paid to think about the future for their communities.
“We get together in person once a quarter, so they can build that confidence and those bonds with each other. So they can lean on and trust each other,” said Bartmann.
New Markets Tax Credits
Through our New Markets Tax Credit program, Dakota Resources serves as the manager and controlling entity of an organization called Dakotas America.
“Dakotas America works with a federal program that connects investors and projects in underserved, high poverty places, where those projects might not happen otherwise. Those projects are focused in rural communities across the country and Native nations.”