When you live in the Rust Belt, talk of Urban Renewal is never far away. With a few exceptions – Chicago, Pittsburgh, perhaps Indianapolis – the Third Wave of Capitalism has not been kind to this area. Pick any of the minor cities of Pennsylvania, Ohio, upstate New York, downstate Illinois, or Michigan and the story is largely the same: all the manufacturing jobs are gone, nothing has replaced them, and everyone who isn't too old or poor to leave has done so.
It's not like we're not aware of the problem. Every city has some sort of pie-in-sky plan about how they plan to attract, you know, all of the Buzzword Jobs. Hi-tech. Information. Knowledge. STEM. Etc etc. The problem is twofold: there are dozens and dozens of cities trying to do the exact same thing simultaneously, and all of them have the same strategy. They throw free tax dollars at private industry and hope that it won't notice that none of the attractive things a business would want are available. The workforce is poor and poorly skilled, the quality of life for transplants would be lousy, and the location has little logistical appeal. I mean, what the hell do the Saginaw, Michigans of the world really have to offer? There's a reason these places are sinking ships.
And the sad thing is, they still have it better than the Dakotas.
Unless you are interested in temporary work in the shale oil industry in North Dakota / Montana, what in the name of god would draw anyone to those places? Don't worry, they can't figure it out either. That is a very interesting link, a story of governments trying to figure out how to sell their states and cities when they have very little to offer that would be of interest to anyone under 60. Wide open spaces? Low cost of living? OK great, lots of places in the US can offer that. And most of them don't have Hoth-like winters that make residents regret being born. And they're not eight hour drives from a major airport.
I like to think of myself as a person who can come up with a few half-decent solutions to problems when I encounter them. And I can honestly say that I have no earthly idea what South Dakota could offer major industries or young, economically successful people to move there. Sometimes a place is perceived as a barren wasteland because it is a barren wasteland. The range of things it can do to attract residents is quite limited, and the range of things that will work is even narrower.