Sioux Falls S.D. (KELO AM) - When it comes to encouraging new businesses to locate in the Sioux Falls area, or setting the stage for population growth, just how important are the “quality of life” improvements that we choose to make? We’re talking here about those amenities that make life more “livable” in any community, including parks, sporting venues, smooth streets, well-kept neighborhoods and opportunities for recreation for the whole family. All of these things may not be the FIRST consideration for business decision makers, but sooner or later, these amenities will be important. For companies, the “livability” of a community like Sioux Falls affects that enterprise’s ability to recruit workers—and to encourage any existing employees to relocate, if that is part of the package. The quality and affordability of housing, the competitiveness of the education system and the number of activities for children and adults affect the willingness of families to live near the location of the new business. And today, finding and keeping a workforce may well be the FIRST factor considered. Often the quality of the local educational system is another highly weighted consideration of business decision makers. In Sioux Falls, we can point proudly to a consistent commitment to new schools, technology learning and metrics that show our students to be learning in ways that prepare them for the future. One of the realities of the modern workplace—especially in metropolitan areas—is the necessity of commuting. Historically, Sioux Falls has averaged among the shortest commutes among small metros. That means working adults can leave the daily drive out of the equation and focus on what they like about the community—a strong case for putting our quality of life amenities front and center. In addition to affordable homes, a multitude of well-kept parks and a kaleidoscope of recreational activities, Sioux Falls has also consistently worked hard to be a safe place for families to live, with top-notch police and fire departments. Add to that a genuine welcoming Midwestern attitude, and you have a recipe for success. As our community continues to grow, the quality of life decisions we make will not only shape our ability to attract businesses and families, but our ability to retain them. Amenities are more than just extras—they may be the deciding factors in our future prosperity.