Rushmore Region Advantages

Where else, but in the Rushmore Region of South Dakota, can you combine the nation's best business climate with unmatched beauty and recreation?

South Dakota consistently receives high marks for fiscal strength and a pro-business attitude, which includes no income tax, no personal property tax, no business inventory tax, and no inheritance tax. A low cost of living index coupled with a low crime rate makes South Dakota a highly livable state.

While people in more metropolitan areas can spend hours of drive time, the region’s average commute is 18 minutes. What that means is more time for cultural activities, fishing, hiking, relaxing with family, or doing whatever it is that makes you happiest.

Read more about the excellent quality of life in the Rushmore Region of Western South Dakota, including:

Location & Climate

The Rushmore Region is known as the "Banana Belt," because on many winter days the Black Hills bask in sun and warmth. Location and geology combine to protect the region from many of the winter weather systems originating in Canada and the Northwest. Warm air from down sloping Chinook winds can create surprisingly warm winter days.

The Rushmore Region of South Dakota can best be described as high, dry, and moderate. The region has less snow than Denver, warmer winters than Minneapolis, and more sunshine days than Miami.

Elevations in the Rushmore Region range from 3,022’ above sea level in Belle Fourche to 5,318’ above sea level in Custer. Black Elk Peak in Custer State Park is 7,244’ above sea level, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains.

Rapid City

January July Annual
Average Temperature (degrees F)
22.3 72.2 46.6
Precipitation (inches)
0.4 2 16.6
Snowfall (inches)
5.3 - 39.8
Average Relative Humidity %
58 61.5 68.5
Average Wind Speed (mph)
10.7 10.1 11.2

Cost of Living

The Rushmore Region is a more affordable option than larger metro areas such as Denver and Minneapolis, and much more stable than oil boomtowns to the north. The region offers the amenities of larger cities, but at a much more palatable cost.
Use the Real Wage Calculator to find out after taxes, how much of your income you take home, and how much can you buy with your hard earned wages.  real wage calculator     The bottom line is…location matters. And we can prove it.


Housing Market: Stable, Strong

Finding the right place to live in the Rushmore Region is easy and flexible.

You can live in a log home among the Ponderosa pine trees in the Black Hills, a ranch-style home – with a real horse ranch – on the high plains, or a residential neighborhood close to services. Whatever you choose, your commute time will be relatively short.

The Rushmore Region housing market is stable yet strong. According to, the 2019 average selling price for single-family homes in the six-county area was $245,275. The housing market is driven by the Rushmore Region's scenic beauty, low taxes, stable prices, economic diversity and access to retail, healthcare and other professional services. And when you’re ready for retirement? South Dakota ranks #4 on Bankrate’s 2019 Best States to Retire list.


Quality Healthcare

The Rushmore Region is known throughout the Black Hills and surrounding states for its quality healthcare services, advanced medical and surgical specialties, and updated imaging and diagnostic technology.

Monument Health

Monument Health is a tax-exempt, community-based organization committed to serving and strengthening health care for people living in the Black Hills and surrounding region, as well as hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. As a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Monument Health shares Mayo Clinic's patient-centered culture and commitment to improving the delivery of health care. Monument Health is comprised of more than 40 health care facilities, and with over 5,000 employees, it is the region’s largest employer. Its flagship medical center is Monument Health Rapid City Hospital, offering a broad scope of services. Other community hospital locations include Custer, Lead-Deadwood, Spearfish, and Sturgis. - Visit Site

Black Hills Surgical Hospital

A physician-owned surgical hospital, Black Hills Surgical Hospital in Rapid City offers a wide range of surgical procedures with 11 operating rooms, private step-down areas, 26 private recovery suites, a state-of-the-art imaging center and pain clinic, and nearly 400 employees. - Visit Site

Black Hills Regional Eye Institute

For over 35 years, this Rapid City-based institute has been offering world-class eye care in the five-state region, with nine satellite clinics and the most modern and complex eye facility in Rapid City. The Black Hills Regional Eye Institute provides care such eye exams, glaucoma treatment, cataract surgery, retina and cornea, pediatric care and strabismus, oculoplastic, and sophisticated refractive surgery techniques. - Visit Site

VA Black Hills Health Care System

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains the VA Black Hills Health Care System, which provides primary and secondary medical and surgical care, residential rehabilitation treatment program services, extended nursing home care, and tertiary psychiatric inpatient services for veterans in South Dakota, portions of Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

Care is delivered primarily through the Fort Meade and Hot Springs VA Medical Centers, as well as through a number of community-based outpatient and rural outreach clinics. - Visit Site

Arts & Culture

The Arts Are Everywhere in the Rushmore Region

The Rushmore Region, home to two world-famous sculptures – Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial – has nurtured its reputation as a Mecca for visual and performing arts. Here is a sample:

  • Black Hills Playhouse is a 350-seat professional summer stock theater in the heart of Custer Sate Park. The playhouse is affiliated with the University of South Dakota Theater Department. - Visit Site
  • The Matthews Opera House in Spearfish stages a variety of music and theater events year-round. The first-floor gallery is a showcase for visual artists. - Visit Site
  • Homestake Opera House was built in 1914 as a gift from Phoebe Hearst, wife of mining magnate George Hearst, as a gift to Lead's miners. The Homestake remains a lively entertainment centerpiece in downtown Lead. - Visit Site
  • Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City hosts everything from high-school basketball tournaments and rodeos to the Black Hills Symphony, nationally known performers and Broadway musicals. - Visit Site
  • City of Presidents features life-size bronze statues of all former U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, and is located in downtown Rapid City. - Visit Site
  • Art Alley, a one-block stretch of alley in downtown Rapid City, has become a colorful and creative outlet for the region's graffiti artists. It's a moveable visual feast that changes every time you visit. - Visit Site
  • The Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City gives voice to a variety of creative endeavors. - Visit Site
  • Wall Drug's Western art collection is world-renowned. The walls are filled with paintings by some of the West's most significant artists. - Visit Site

Recreation & Outdoors

A Million-Acre Playground

Not only is the Rushmore Region a great place to work, it's a great place to play. A veritable million-acre playground, the Black Hills stand on the Great Plains as an emerald oasis in a vast sea of surrounding prairie. Its wonders include world-class trout fishing, world-class rock climbing, thousands of miles of hiking, biking and snowmobile trails, five national parks, monuments and memorials (the highest concentration of parks, monuments and memorials in America), and a myriad of big-game hunting opportunities. – Visit Site

Here are a few highlights:

  • Hiking and biking - The 110-mile Mickelson Trail, a rails-to-trails project, runs from Deadwood to Edgemont. It offers some of the best bicycling in the United States. For backpackers, the Centennial Trail will take you to some of the most isolated backcountry spots in the Black Hills. Many cities have their own trail systems, including Rapid City's Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park, Spearfish's Lookout Mountain and Sturgis's Deadman Trail System.
  • Fishing - Rapid Creek and Spearfish Creek sustain naturally reproducing trout habitats. Smaller streams offer good fishing as well. Sheridan Lake, Pactola Lake, Deerfield Lake, Angostura Reservoir and Belle Fourche Reservoir yield a variety of fishing opportunities aboard boats and on the shore.
  • Boating - Angostura Reservoir, at 4,400 acres, and Belle Fourche Reservoir, with 8,000 acres, are the largest and most popular areas for boating. Kayakers and canoeists have more choices, ranging from the bays of Pactola Reservoir and Sheridan Lake to the many pristine lakes inside Custer State Park.
  • Skiing - The Rushmore Region has two downhill ski areas: Mystic Miner Mountain Resort has 44 runs and a 700-foot drop; Terry Peak Ski Area has 30 trails and a 1,000-foot drop. Cross-country ski areas include Eagle Cliff, Big Hill, Beaver Creek and Bear Mountain. Snowshoeing is popular throughout the Black Hills.
  • Camping - Black Hills National Forest has 30 campgrounds, Custer State Park has 13. In addition, there are scores of private campgrounds and RV parks scattered throughout the region. The variety ranges from full-service RV resorts to natural wilderness sites.

Educating the Region's Future Leaders

Our higher education and R&D partners help stimulate economic growth by supplying a skilled and educated workforce pipeline to businesses in the region, along with providing innovative technology and techniques to help further company growth.


Black Hills State University, the state’s third largest university, is a four-year university located in Spearfish that offers 80 academic programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. With more than 3,800 students from 44 states and 29 countries, BHSU has earned a reputation for transforming lives through innovative, high-quality academic programs and a dynamic learning community. - Visit Site


South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSMT) in Rapid City is a four-year university that offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. Founded in 1885, SDSMT is also an engineering research university. In 2018-19, 2,778 students from 44 states and 30 countries were enrolled at the university. - Visit Site

bhsu rapid

Black Hills State University - Rapid City provides satellite classes and degrees offered in partnership through South Dakota’s six public universities. Students can enroll in certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree programs. - Visit Site

The University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University both offer Schools of Nursing, and provide a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Coursework for both programs is offered through the Black Hills State University-Rapid City campus. Visit USD Site. Visit SDSU Site.


Western Dakota Technical College in Rapid City is the only technical institute serving western South Dakota. With over 2,000 students, WDT offers more than 35 programs in some of the fastest growing professional fields such as business, information technology, construction trades, health services, legal services, manufacturing, mechanical trades, and science and technology. - Visit Site


National American University, located in Rapid City, is a for-profit institution catering to non-traditional students. NAU offers on-line programs in fields such as accounting, business, legal, technology, and health services, and maintains a satellite campus at Ellsworth Air Force Base for military staff and families. - Visit Site


Oglala Lakota College is chartered by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and provides educational opportunities that enhance Lakota life. These include certificates, GED, associate’s, bachelor’s degrees, and a master’s degree in Lakota Leadership. Campuses are located in Kyle (on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation) and Rapid City. - Visit Site

Research & Development

Both Black Hills State University and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology offer research centers that allow for collaboration and highly-technical work on specific areas of inquiry, including:

Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF)

The Sanford Underground Science Laboratory is an underground laboratory near Lead that houses multiple physics experiments in areas such as dark matter and neutrino research. It is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Deep Underground Science and Engineering (DUSEL) project in partnership with Chicago-based Fermilab. Learn more at

Who to Contact

Mike Headley, Lab Director
Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory
630 East Summit Street
Lead, SD 57754
Phone: 605.722.4060
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the Rushmore Region, the “Midwestern work ethic” goes beyond the cliché. Located in a right-to-work state, the region boasts a workforce with a wide range of skills – from skilled tradesman who understand the nuances of metal manufacturing, to engineers and research scientists. Not only is South Dakota a right-to-work state, we have low unemployment rates and one of the highest net in-bound migration rates in the country. Our workforce choses to make the Rushmore Region their home.

Employee Training and Development Resources

Industries throughout the region work with these educational institutions to develop customized training programs specific to their needs:

Local companies also have access to several programs to help recruit and train new and existing employees through the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development. For more information on their extensive capabilities, visit 

As workforce experts, the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation offers a vast variety of training and education programs to help ensure employers have a skilled workforce, and to help individuals realize their potential as employees. They can adapt and customize education and job training programs to meet the changing demands of employers.

For more information, visit their website at

Largest Employers in the Rushmore Region

Employer Industry Location(s) Employees
Monument Health Healthcare, Hospitals Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Deadwood, Custer, Belle Fourche, Wall 5,100
Ellsworth Air Force Base Military, Civilian Box Elder 4,252
Federal Government Government Rapid City 2,912
Rapid City School District Education Rapid City 1,774
Walmart / Sam's Club Retail Rapid City & Spearfish 1,399
State of South Dakota Government Rapid City 1,217
VA System Black Hills Healthcare  Healthcare, Hospitals Sturgis & Hot Springs 1,051
Black Hills Corporation Corporate Headquarters / Energy Rapid City 850
City of Rapid City Government Rapid City 815
Pennington County Government Rapid City 743
Liv Hospitality Travel, Tourism, Entertainment Rapid City, Deadwood, Box Elder 733
Black Hills Special Services Education Sturgis 578
Black Hills Works Human Services Rapid City 550
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Education Rapid City 442
Black Hills State University Education Spearfish 415
Black Hills Surgical Hospital Healthcare Rapid City 390
South Dakota National Guard Military Rapid City 370
Meade School District Education Sturgis 350
Synchrony Financial Customer Service Center Private Label Credit Cards Rapid City 325
Advanced Services, Inc. (ASI) Customer Service Center, GE Appliance Support Rapid City 319
Neiman Enterprises, Inc. Lumber / Forest Products Spearfish & Hill City 313
Menard’s Retail Rapid City 280
Spearfish School District Education Spearfish 250
Scull Construction Construction Rapid City 246
Assurant Specialty Insurance Rapid City 230
RESPEC Corporate Headquarters / Engineering Rapid City 230
Fleet Farm Retail Rapid City 185
Runnings Retail Rapid City & Belle Fourche 150
Mass Markets Customer Service Center Business Process Outsourcing Spearfish 100


The average industrial electricity rate in the Rushmore Region is 6.18¢/kWh. This is 7.35% less than the national average rate of 6.67¢/kWh. Industrial rates in the U.S. range from 4.13¢/kWh to 30.82¢/kWh.

Sources: National Renewable Energy Laboratory; U.S. Department of Energy

Electricity providers:

Natural Gas

Montana-Dakota Utilities’ engineers work with large commercial and industrial customers as a one-stop shop for energy needs by providing engineering advice, up-to-date information on new energy technology, financial analysis, vendor referral and energy auditing services.

Natural gas provider:


A reliable system of telecommunications support ensures that companies are never without connectivity no matter where they operate. Rural South Dakotans have greater access to wired broadband telecommunications services than many of their counterparts across the country.

Sources: South Dakota Dashboard; South Dakota Telecommunications Association

South Dakota’s telecommunications infrastructure is highlighted by:

  • Intercity fiber optic cable
  • Digital and electronic switching systems
  • Self-healing network services
  • IntraLATA voice, data and interactive video service

Telecommunications providers:


Ranked third in the nation for highway performance and cost-effectiveness, South Dakota’s highway infrastructure is one of the very best in the country, with low congestion, quality maintenance and short commute times. The average commute time in the Rushmore Region is only 18 minutes.

The Rushmore Region is located along the following Interstates and highways:

  • Interstate 90
  • US Highway 16
  • South Dakota Highways 44 & 79
  • Highway 85 – Theodore Roosevelt Expressway (TRE)

The Rushmore Region Alliance is a member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. This advocacy group from a nine-state, 2,300+ mile economic development corridor between Texas, and Alberta, Canada collaborates with federal and state leaders, partners in Canada and Mexico, and industry partners, to deliver the infrastructure, food and fuel to secure the quality of life of America's cities. This provides the Rushmore Region with a built-in pipeline for exporting area goods.

Transportation map of Rushmore Region

Distance to Nearest Major Metros

City Distance Rapid City (Miles)
Chicago, IL 897
Denver, CO 396
Kansas City, MO 713
Minneapolis, MN 568
Omaha, NE 510

Source: MapQuest


Rapid City Regional Airport, eight miles east of Rapid City, services the entire Rushmore Region.

The airport is served by the following carriers:

  • American Airlines, with service to:
    Dallas/Fort Worth, TX - Chicago, IL* - Charlotte, NC* 
  • Delta Airlines, with service to:
    Salt Lake City, UT - Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN - Atlanta, GA 
  • United Airlines, with service to:
    Denver, CO - Chicago, IL* - Houston, TX* - Los Angeles, CA* - Newark, NJ* - San Francisco, CA* 
  • Allegiant Airlines, with weekly service to:
    Las Vegas, NV - Mesa, AZ
  • * seasonal

Contact: 605.394.4195; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern (RCP&E) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroads operate lines in the Rushmore Region for the purpose of transporting intermodal freight and bulk cargo. RCP&E operates the former Canadian Pacific line. BNSF operates a line that runs through the southwest corner of the Black Hills.

The Belle Fourche Industrial and Rail Park specializes in intermodal freight and warehouse capabilities for the region. It is a 75-acre South Dakota Certified Ready Site accessible to RCP&E, which connects with three Class 1 rail partners: BNSF, Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific.

Tax Structure

South Dakota businesses are not over-burdened with excessive taxes or regulations, and have a competitive edge over their counterparts in other areas of the United States. South Dakota helps businesses keep the money they make so they can continue to invest in their company’s growth.

South Dakota consistently receives high marks from top national ratings groups, due in large part to these competitive advantages:

  • No corporate income tax
  • No business inventory tax
  • No personal income tax
  • No personal property tax
  • No inheritance tax
  • Competitive workers compensation rates
  • Low average unemployment insurance rates
  • Right-to-Work state

To compare your state, and for more information, visit the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development website at


Incentives are customized according to the needs of each business and are determined by job creation, service creation, revenue generation, and overall economic impact. They can include tax abatements, relocation or workforce training grants, lower interest loans, special lease or construction terms, tax refund credits, venture capital, etc. Bottom line - Rushmore Region Alliance partners have a variety of funding mechanisms in place to meet the specific needs of both new and existing businesses.

Additionally, the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development offers an array of financing options, such as working capital, workforce training money, and low-interest loans in conjunction with local lenders. Their team of finance professionals share a desire to see your company succeed. For more info, visit

The six-county Rushmore Region of South Dakota is one of the best places in the nation to start and run a business. The entrepreneurial spirit, support of free enterprise, and Midwestern values and work ethic allows companies to thrive and do business on their own terms.

The Rushmore Regional trade area includes over 530,000 people within 200 miles. As such, Rapid City and the surrounding Black Hills communities offer retail trade, medical and professional services, and recreation opportunities second to none. In recent years, the region has received numerous accolades and national rankings for its excellent quality of life and business climate.