Sturgis - Work & Economy
A Veterans Administration medical center is Sturgis' biggest employer with 751 workers, according to the Sturgis Economic Development Corporation. Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, a public education agency, ranks second in employment with a staff of 578.
The community’s emphasis on healthcare and education might surprise outsiders worldwide who know Sturgis as home of an annual motorcycle rally. Touted as the nation’s largest, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was launched in 1938 by the local Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club. Today, motorcycle racing and other competitions, outdoor concerts by major rock ‘n roll and country performers, and late night parties under the stars lure rally fans back year after year. The event generates big profits for vendors selling everything from food to tattoos, and it boosts revenue for state and city sales tax coffers, and for charities.
There is no denying, though, that the rally also generates its own brand of difficulties, including law enforcement issues. A year-round rally-related problem for Sturgis has been the loss of activity in the town’s central business district. Some Main Street buildings owned or leased by rally vendors sit empty for eleven months each year. The town’s current comprehensive plan calls for an aggressive downtown revitalization effort. Simultaneously, municipal government and economic development leaders are working to attract new retail along Interstate 90.
Since it was founded, Sturgis has profited by providing retail services to area livestock ranchers, lumber producers, Black Hills vacationers, and small manufacturers. According to Pat Kurtenbach of the Sturgis Economic Development Corporation,in the 1980s Sturgis began attracting metals manufacturers to its new industrial park. Today 215 people are employed by 21 small companies in the park, mainly producing firearms and motorcycle parts.
The Sturgis economy generated nearly $136.4 million in business activity subject to state sales tax in fiscal year 2013 (July 2012-June 2013). This represented an 4.4 percent increase over FY2012. Retail trade jumped 12.7 percent while manufacturing dipped 5.3 percent.
Gross Sales Tax Revenue
Below is an interactive graph showing the gross sales revenue trends in Sturgis from May 2012- April 2013.