(Photo credit: Emily Spartz, Argus Leader.)
Reason to partner with the arts #1: Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community. That’s exactly why business support is pouring into the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Not only do locals and tourists enjoy the Zoo for its sheer entertainment value, but businesses have begun to view the zoo as a tool to help attract and retain workers.
“I’m told it really is critical, especially when businesses are recruiting physicians or scientists or corporate executives,” comments Elizabeth Whealy, the Zoo’s CEO and President. “Those people want to know they have a lush community to move to, and a zoo indicates a lush community. And for kids it’s particularly important.”
A capital campaign with support from the Sioux Falls business community will help the Zoo attract more visitors and improve its business practices. The $4.6 million project was funded with $2.1 million in city sales tax revenue, $1.1 million from a Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce community appeal campaign and $1.4 million in other private contributions.
An improvement project, now underway, has already created an entry plaza, snow monkey display, flamingo pond (sponsored in part by a $100,000 gift from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.) and indoor improvements.
“The upgrades we’ve done have a big impact and a lot of curb appeal,” said board chairman Jon Pederson, vice president of technology at Midcontinent Communications. “Behind the scenes, there are changes … to make things more efficient, especially during crunch times.”
Whealy further states, “We had incredible support from the business community, and people really see this as a community zoo… We can have corporate events, up-lighting for the evening, so companies can have parties and picnics.”
Learn more about how the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is pARTnering to create a vibrant community for those who live and work in Sioux Falls at GreatZoo.org. You, too, can create an environment that will engage your employees. Check out our tool-kit “Employee Engagement and the Arts” for ideas.