Black Hills State University was named Rushmore Region Partner of the Year at the annual Small Business RoundUP hosted by Black Hills Community Economic Development (BHCED) on Thursday, Sept. 22.  

Fran White, executive director of BHCED, said their organization hosts the Small Business RoundUP each year as a thank you to their partners and a celebration of their collaboration with small businesses. The Rushmore Region Partner of the Year is selected by the Rushmore Region Alliance, a BHCED committee that works on economic development investment within the Black Hills region.  

“The committee decides which organization or person to give the award to based on the work they do throughout the year in achieving their goals. Their goals include, among others, capacity building and marketing of the region,” White explained. “Black Hills State University has played a vital role in the Rushmore Region’s achievement of their goal of capacity building. The “Fuel the Growth” economic development course hosted by the University is such a great tool for educating community leaders and economic development professionals in South Dakota. We really appreciate the role BHSU has stepped into as the host of this annual event.” 

Accepting the award on behalf of Black Hills State University at the event was President Laurie S. Nichols, Dr. Jon Kilpinen, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and Jin Kim, director of Career Development.  

“BHSU was honored to be named Rushmore Region Partner of the Year and I thank the Rushmore Region Alliance for selecting us,” said President Nichols. “We have enjoyed working with the Rushmore Region Alliance, area community economic development organizations, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to sponsor “Fuel the Growth” economic development courses in 2021 and 2022.  As a comprehensive, regional public university, we view our role to be an engine of workforce and economic development for the western part of our state.” 

For more information about this year’s Small Business RoundUp, visit