Jared Indahl: Getting to know Mitchell's Main Street
When Jared Indahl started his new job on Aug. 20 as the new executive director for Mitchell Main Street and Beyond, it was the week of the Corn Palace Festival, and activity at the nonprofit was hectic.
"That week especially was just a lot of meeting people and kind of staying out of everybody's way, just kind of getting into the flow of things," Indahl said.
Now finishing up his third week on the job, Indahl said things have calmed down a little, and he's had a chance to get to know both his coworkers and many of the people who work at the local businesses with which he'll be spending a lot of time.
He's also begun to settle into the day-to-day operations of the job, which he said include event planning, social media branding and design — all of which he gained familiarity with at his most recent job as the assistant athletic director at Dakota State University in Madison.
"A lot of the details and stuff that I was doing at Dakota State, whether that's growing your brand on social media or event planning, that's a lot of the same stuff that I find myself already doing here," Indahl said. "I really enjoy and love doing that. It's hard to call it work when you enjoy what you're doing that much. And the fact that this is nonprofit work, too, that just couples in with my fondness for Mitchell."
Prior to working at DSU, Indahl spent about two years as an athletic marketing assistant at the University of Tennessee. Living so far from his hometown of Burke meant that he only got to see his family once or twice a year, so he took the job at DSU in 2014 to be closer to them.
However, he found that meeting the demands of the athletic program of a smaller school meant that although he was fairly close to his family members geographically, he didn't have time to see them much more often than he had while he was living in Tennessee.
"Being that it was still a smaller school, NAIA division, we were trying to grow our brand. Because of that, I was working all of our home events throughout the year," Indahl said. "I was kind of being pulled in many different directions, and it was getting to the point where it was becoming too much, at times."
When the job in Mitchell opened up, it seemed to Indahl to be a way of finally getting to be more involved with his family, including watching his nieces grow up in person.
"When you couple that with the niceness of everybody here, it's been great. I love it," he said.
The board of directors at Mitchell Main Street and Beyond agreed that Indahl's marketing experience would be a good fit for the position, which Jen Johnston had previously held since 2016.
"His experience promoting sports activities and working with other organizations to cooperatively build business for everyone just so directly related, and he was the best fit for the job," said Jeff Logan, president of the board of directors.
Since taking over, Indahl has helped to organize the most recent First Friday event and is now in the process of planning the organization's Ladies' Night Out on Oct. 9.
He's also begun looking for various grants to fund both general improvements to downtown Mitchell, such as streetscaping projects, or to help the local businesses, themselves. Indahl said one of his primary goals is to generally increase community support for local businesses.
"When you buy local, it's not just supporting that business," he said. "You're supporting a family; you're supporting a community. That money gets turned over to other areas in the community, and it really helps everybody when you buy local. You're not just supporting a billionaire family in Arkansas, for example."
In order to increase foot traffic at local businesses, Indahl is also spending time researching events held in other cities that could be received well in Mitchell, and he hopes to soon fill vacancies in buildings on Main Street.
Having grown up in Burke, Indahl came to visit Mitchell fairly often for sporting events and other activities, but he hadn't lived in the city until getting hired with Mitchell Main Street and Beyond. He said he's been surprised at how welcoming everyone in Mitchell has been.
"Mitchell still has a population of 15,000, so I mean, it's a big city within the scope of South Dakota. I really was kind of pleasantly surprised at just how openly friendly everybody was," he said.
Indahl and Logan both said that the helpfulness of Indahl's new coworkers has made the transition to a new executive director a smooth one.
"A lot of times, with your jobs, you're seeing your coworkers more than you're seeing your immediate family," Indahl said. "It was really important to me, in looking for this position, that I was going to have a good relationship with my coworkers, and it's been amazing so far."
Logan said that although Indahl came in at a busy time, he's gone on to meet and exceed the board's expectations so far.