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SMGA awards City of Lennox, LADC with Community Innovation Award

The Sioux Metro Growth Alliance (SMGA) has awarded the City of Lennox and the Lennox Area Development Corporation (LADC) with its Community Innovation Award. Given out annually, the award recognized an SMGA member community that has demonstrated successful new ideas in community development or achieved a community goal through partnership and community effort.

Lennox was chosen for the award for being the first community to partner with the SMGA for its new Economic Development Management Service (EDMS). Under the service, participating communities receive direct support from an economic development professional for sixteen to twenty hours per week.

The Economic Development Management Service (EDMS) is intended to help provide additional capacity and expertise to communities that have historically relied on volunteers or small municipal staffs to encourage growth.

“By working with our organization, Lennox has helped launch a brand-new program that won’t just benefit them but the entire region,” said SMGA president and CEO Jesse Fonkert. “Lack of direct professional support for economic development has always been a challenge for some of our members, and the EDMS not only fills those gaps but does so in a cost-effective manner that can promote collaboration across our region.”

LADC President Sharese Ihnen reinforced that sentiment. “Bringing on the Economic Development Specialist role has been important to our community at such a pivotal time of growth. The LADC relies on this position to help advocate for and engage with the business community and help us prosper. As a board, we were excited to join forces with SMGA.”

Fonkert said that City and LADC leaders have not only been instrumental in launching the EDMS but in refining the program as well. “We receive constant feedback on what the proper role of the development professional should be, what skills or expertise they should bring to the table, what deliverables they expect, and more. We appreciate that they’ve embraced the challenge of change by bringing on a new staff person, and we know it will pay dividends in the future.”

The LADC began receiving staff support in May of 2021 from Economic Development Specialist Ryan Solberg, who also serves the Baltic community. Those interested in contacting Ryan to learn more about business opportunities in Lennox and the work of the LADC can reach him via email at

“I’m proud to be working in such an amazing community,” said Solberg. “For years, Lennox has been making things happen and positioning itself for growth by attracting a developer to build more homes, new public amenities, and supporting local businesses. Hopefully, I can help the LADC build on that momentum.”


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