By Associated Press - Thursday, September 21, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is speaking out about recent events in South Dakota it calls “antagonistic to immigrants and new demographic groups in Sioux Falls.”

The Chamber released a statement Wednesday that partially appeared to be a response to recent events held in South Dakota, including a Monday gathering Minnehaha County Republicans organized. A speaker at the event urged the state to crack down on immigration, refugee placement and Muslim groups, the Argus Leader reported .

“Legislation and policies that negatively target specific populations will not help Sioux Falls address our changing workforce needs,” Chamber officials said in the statement. “They will not help grow the state economy and certainly do not create new opportunities for South Dakota residents.”

Dave Roetman, chairman of the county Republicans, said he didn’t take the statement as a direct response to the event.

“It’s really less about specific events that have come up, although it does involve several speakers from outside the state, and I’ll let people judge what those are,” said Jason Ball, president and CEO of the Chamber.

He said the statement is a desire to lay out the group’s policies priorities and state legislators should take note.

“We just felt it was really important to reiterate, ‘Here’s the position and policy perspective we’re coming from as the business voice in Sioux Falls,’ and signal to our friends in the Statehouse, in similar nature to the previous legislative session, we’re going to be sharing these policy preferences in the upcoming session as policy proposals are made,” Ball said.

The Chamber’s statement reads that “new Americans” are an essential part of Sioux Falls’ workforce and contribute to the “vibrancy” of the city.

“We’ve got to grow into the community we need to be,” Ball said. “And I think that’s going to begin here, with us not only just valuing the diversity that exists in this community but finding ways to celebrate it.”


Information from: Argus Leader,

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