Located in the Midwestern region of the United States, South Dakota is much more than a state with sprawling prairies, breathtaking hills and glacial lakes. With a population of approximately 858,469 (2016 est.), South Dakota is sparsely populated yet one of the fastest- growing states in the US.
No doubt agriculture remains a key contributor to the state’s economy, but the rise of the services industry, including retail, finance and healthcare, has transformed the market space drastically, accounting for the majority of the state’s employment. The financial services sector – including banking, insurance and real estate - has overshadowed other leading.
It was not until 1981 that businesses started pouring money into the state transforming this once agriculture-dependent state into a financial hub. The government launched its market-oriented economic reforms in the early 1980s encouraging inward investment by providing a favourable business environment and attractive tax benefits (no corporate tax) – and the first player to enter the market was Citibank, which now employs more than 3,000 people in the state. Pierre is the capital city and Sioux Falls is where all the top financial firms are based.
Photo Credit: South Dakota Department of Tourism
Why choose South Dakota
If you want to be part of a rapidly evolving financial sector yet don’t want to miss out on the perks of being close to nature, then South Dakota is the place for you. Ranked number one in the US for starting a business (CNN Money), South Dakota is home to many small, medium and large businesses, thanks to excellent communication technology, strategic geographic location and a strong economy (eighth strongest in the US, 2015 est). It was voted the fourth best job market in the country (WalletHub.com 2014), with plenty of opportunities for talented and skilled professionals, particularly in the areas of finance, accounting, trust and fiduciary, investment management, banking and insurance. As the largest city, Sioux Falls has the highest concentration of expats in the state - majority of them are employed by the finance industry. With a low cost of living, competitive salaries, attractive tax benefits, affordable housing and a high quality of life, there is every reason for an expat to choose South Dakota over any other state.
Being in cities like Pierre and Sioux Falls means you are never far away from the breathtaking landscape, national parks, lake trails and other natural attractions that this state has to offer. Some of the iconic tourist destinations include Mount Rushmore National Memorial (the world-renowned stone monument featuring the sculptures of America’s four most historically significant presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln), Badlands National Park (the world’s only Corn Palace), the Black Hills (one of the most sought-after spots for hiking, biking and camping) and the Missouri River (the longest river in North America).
Requirements to set up a company
If you’ve chosen South Dakota for your next business venture, then rest assured you’ve made the best decision. South Dakota is well known for its entrepreneurial friendly initiatives and attractive tax climate (no corporate tax and business inventory tax). Given its strategic geographic location, there is a good scope for businesses to expand their operations beyond the boundaries of the state by taking advantage of the excellent transport and fibre infrastructure.
The state has five certified commercial and industrial sites which are categorized by use and approved by the government.
1) Heavy Industrial Sites 2) Light Industrial Sites 3) Business Services
4) Research and Development Sites 5) Mega Parks
To learn more about these sites and apply for registration, please visit the official website:
Requirements for employees wishing to relocate
Foreign workers need to secure a valid work visa before relocating to South Dakota, US. When applying for a visa on the worker’s behalf, it is mandatory for employers to provide evidence for the lack of suitably qualified talent in the national market for the specified job. Owing to the popularity as a prominent destination for expats, the US has a relatively complex visa system. Some of the commonly used work-related visa categories are E-2 treaty investor, L-1A and L-1B intra-company transfer and H1B visa. The most preferred option for international executives and senior-level managers is the EB1-C visa.
For more information on the different visa categories available to foreign expats, please visit the following websites.