Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Meighen

Wall—A South Dakota Town That Has It All

The community of Wall, like so many other little towns in the Great Plains, has a humble origin story that begins with the great westward railway expansion. The city of Wall was platted in 1907 when the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad company opened the train station and building lots were offered for sale.
The community grew during the first quarter of the 19th century, surviving the travesties of the Great War and Spanish influenza. In the 1930s, residents endured both the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. During the summer of 1936, Wall Drug Store capitalized on the marketing idea to offer "free ice water" to hot, weary travelers passing by Wall. This idea, along with appropriate signage complete with quirky sayings, brought travelers into Wall off U.S. Highway 16. The tourism generated by the advertisements helped the community survive the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
In addition to tourism, the agricultural pursuits of farm and ranch families provided a solid foundation for the community. The community evolved and new businesses offered the residents several amenities. When looking at a community, there are factors to consider in ranking the quality of life within that community, namely social offerings, education, economy, environment and basic needs.
The planning done by leaders in Wall is coming full circle after recent completion of two vital infrastructure projects — the Wall Industrial Park and the Wall Municipal Airport. Another project slated for the industrial park includes "construction condominiums." The stability of the economy in Wall offers new and existing businesses an environment conducive to development. Now, Wall continues to strategically market the community and develop it well into the 21st century.
In 2021, development began in the city's industrial park located just north of the upgraded municipal airport. The industrial park, divided into two phases, features 18 lots within an 85-acre parcel. Lot sizes range from approximately one acre in size up to 20 acres. Lots in phase one of the park offer utility services with a graded lot and road access. The South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development (SD-GOED) certified the industrial park for "light industrial" use. The industrial park offers potential businesses the opportunity to acquire property ready for development and "mitigates the risks associated with development by providing detailed information about the site including price and availability, utilities, access, and environmental assessments."
Wall offers the only shovel-ready parcels certified by the SD-GOED office for light industrial use in west river country. The industrial park showcases the determination of the community leaders of Wall. One lot in the industrial park provides a unique, turn-key opportunity to lease a construction condominium. The design for these condominiums offers an expansive shop area suitable for any new business startup or expansion of an existing business in a light, industrial grade setting.
The municipal airport reopened this year after completion of a $5.4 million runway expansion. After two years of planning, the major infrastructure project began in April 2023. The project entailed removing the existing concrete runway and pouring a new one. The runway was widened to 75-feet and lengthened to 4,418-foot. The project included replacing the lighting system with a new pilot-controlled lighting system and a precision approach path indicator. These systems allow pilots to "activate runway lighting for nontowered airports" such as the one in Wall. The new lighting aids pilots in nighttime landings or approaches during inclement weather. The expansion affords more business class jets adequate distance or runway length to take off from the airport.
The airport offers a convenient transportation hub for out-of-town air travelers and potential clients to visit Wall. In addition to business and recreational travelers, the airport also provides a staging area for air ambulance personnel to quickly and safely transfer patients to medical facilities more capable of treating healthcare emergencies. The airport also offers hanger lots for plane storage, a great service for local aviators.
Another factor considered in the quality of life for a community is the local educational system. The Wall School District (WSD) provides a solid, well-rounded education for children of the community, our next generation. The WSD began construction of a Career and Technical Education (CTE) facility adjacent to the existing school. The classes offered by the WSD prepare high-school graduates by offering academic programs that focus upon the employment market options available for today's students. Over 80 percent of students graduating from Wall High School plan to attend college or a technical school. These students provide local businesses with a trained and educated, readily available workforce. Construction of the CTE facility began in October 2023 with plans to complete it for use in the 2024-2025 academic year.
In terms of basic needs, housing is one of the greatest factors considered when relocating to a community. Newly developed subdivisions, Echo Valley and Hansen Subdivisions, offer prospective residents with the opportunity to acquire building lots available with all utility features and street access. All the lots in Hansen subdivision have been sold but two homes will be available for purchase in the subdivision in the upcoming month. Last year, the city obtained an infrastructure loan from the South Dakota Housing Development Authority for phase one of Echo Valley. They developed 24 lots in Echo Valley, 15 of which are designated as affordable housing. All lots developed include public utilities, a gravity sewer system and roadway for the lots. The commitment by the city helps provide a basic need of housing for those who wish to call Wall home, either personally or in business practices. Apartments and preexisting homes provide other housing options in Wall.
The community, grounded by its brick and mortar businesses, provides its residents with numerous amenities. The basic needs include services provided in a community, such as its financial or banking institutions and retail markets to provide residents with a variety of groceries and sundries. The residents of Wall enjoy the numerous retail establishments and restaurants. The city of Wall provides residents with a swimming pool and parks system that includes bike lanes. The leaders of Wall strive to engage in projects that provide residents, existing and potential ones, with a safe place to live, start a family or retire. Wall offers a safe, small-town atmosphere that also embraces progress and development of its resources. The only thing missing is a new business. With "lots happening in Wall, South Dakota" it is certainly a community worthy of review by potential businesses because Wall does have it all!
For further information, please contact the Wall Economic Development Corporation at (605) 279-2658.

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
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