Wall EDC Welcomes New Board Member Deni Martin

Wall Economic Development Corporation announced Deni Martin as its newest board member back in April. Her dedication to helping Wall thrive throughout her career makes her a perfect candidate for her new role.
Martin received a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in K-12 Leadership and Administration from Northern State University. She’s been living in Wall since 2018, along with her husband, Tim, and son Ben. She also has an older son, Kyle, who lives in Sioux Falls.
Over the course of her career, Martin has gained more than 18 years of experience in high-profile, non-profit board management. She currently works as the Program Manager for the Build Dakota Scholarship, a state-wide workforce development initiative that provides scholarships for students pursuing a technical degree. The program’s goal is to provide education for in-demand skills and fill the workforce gap across the Dakotas. Martin is also the Executive Director of the South Dakota Board of Optometry.
She was drawn toward the board position at Wall EDC because of her love for the Wall community. Despite working in and around economic development in South Dakota for the last 15 years, this is her first time serving as a board member for an economic development group – and so far, it’s been a great fit.  
“I see so many dedicated people who are working hard to keep Wall thriving and wanted to be part of that,” she said about her position on the board. “Professionally, I think I can learn a lot from having a seat on this board, but I also think because of my educational background and employment experience, I bring a different perspective to it as well.”
With her dual experience in workforce development and education, Martin understands the importance of providing experiences for the young people in Wall. Notably, Wall High School is building a new Career and Technical Education facility. With career exploration options as one of the key factors in developing strong communities, this new facility will help train and retain a local workforce. When asked about the CTE facility, Martin mentioned, “We need infrastructure to be able to send our young people off to college, but have housing and jobs available for them if they wish to return home. I feel strongly that economic development, education, and businesses all need to work together to create thriving communities where people want to live and have employment opportunities to do so. I think the WEDC is going to continue to do big things in small steps and I can’t wait to be part of that process.”  
As a remote employee, Martin can live and work anywhere in the state, but she chooses to remain in Wall because of her passion for smaller schools and small-town living. She can also attest to the dedication of the Wall Economic Development Corporation’s board members over the years. “I believe in the WEDC and its goals because I believe in the people who are part of the organization and of this community,” she said. “In small towns, people are more willing to work together towards a common goal and I’ve seen this happen with the WEDC. Strong economic development groups make stronger communities.” One accomplishment Martin is especially grateful for is the WEDC’s commitment to affordable housing. She says that compared to 2018, there are more affordable housing options available and the WEDC’s efforts to expand housing access are continuing to improve.
Looking ahead to the future of the WEDC, Martin believes that continuing the relationship with the high school and engagement in new CTE programs is critical for the WEDC board. She wants to raise awareness in the community about the impact this project has on Wall’s young people and future workforce. Aside from education, Martin anticipates continued growth in housing options and hopes that community members understand the importance of the industrial park. She’s challenging the community to think outside the box and uncover what industries are being outsourced that could be developed locally in Wall. She mentioned, “With this being such an agriculturally based community, by providing a location and infrastructure for a new business, the opportunity is limitless for someone who is ready to start a new adventure!”
Life in Wall is filled with opportunities to engage in the community in a caliber that larger metropolitan areas lack. Contrary to the misconception that life is “boring” in a small town, Martin says it’s the opposite - towns like Wall create opportunities that larger towns simply don’t have. Her biggest challenge now is uncovering new ways that Wall can complement the already established and thriving tourism industry.

The Pioneer Review

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Philip, SD 57567
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