Steve Watson’s passions are diverse—you’ll often find him motorcycling, curling, or even taking in a European soccer match—but perhaps his greatest passion is growing the Midwest. Formerly the Director of Business Development for the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), Steve brings years of experience and relationships to his role as Development Strategist at ISG. Now Steve puts that experience to work for the entire region by pairing his development mindset with ISG’s solutions, helping public and private partners across the entire Midwest position themselves for growth.
It’s true: my interests are all over the board and change regularly! I like volleyball, spikeball, music, downhill skiing, kayaking, motorcycling, curling, sporting clays, golf, reading, grilling, craft beer, and more! I also love to travel, and if I were to completely reinvent myself, I would consider being a boat captain or travel writer. I am a proud resident of the Upper Midwest, but I still yearn for the sea and mountains from time to time! Most recently, I have become a fan of European soccer, and my bucket list now includes a trip across the pond to take in a match.
My previous role with the GOED afforded me an opportunity to connect with business and community leaders across the state and gave me valuable experience with different state funding programs, which has already helped several of ISG’s clients and partners plan for and secure project financing.
Being part of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation has also been a rewarding experience, and I’m thankful that ISG has been very supportive in this endeavor. At the end of the day, it is about serving the communities where we elect to live and do business. This gives me—and ISG—the opportunity to contribute insight and expertise which will have a lasting impact on the Sioux Falls community, even long after I am gone!
After I was diagnosed with cancer, a couple surgeries, and a long recovery period, I emerged from the experience grateful to individuals such as those in healthcare who elect to faithfully serve complete strangers. It also gave me a first row seat to an important lesson in the frailty and unpredictability of life. Lastly, it reinforced the notion that life is simply not fair. Sometimes what happens to you is outside your control. In a professional context, I’ve lost projects, I’ve been passed up for promotion, I’ve missed the mark on a presentation. Introspection is important, but you can’t dwell on these setbacks. It’s best to take a lesson, as there is usually one to be had, and move on. We can’t always control what happens to us, but there is always a choice in how we choose to respond.
Inspiration can be found just about anywhere if you’re receptive to it. I admire my coworkers who put in the extra hours to finish a project or generate a new opportunity for the firm. I admire parents who are selfless in support of their children. I admire those who choose to be a friend or caretaker to the elderly, sick, or downtrodden. I am inspired by random acts of kindness. Frankly, I am inspired by everyday people that lack athletic prowess, wealth, or fame. That is most of us, who despite setbacks and the challenges of everyday life, keep charging forward!
What I enjoy most is helping our clients refine and then execute on a vision. We’re all part of something much bigger than ourselves. When you view your daily work through that lens, it is hard not to get amped up about it!
While every community has its challenges, Sioux Falls has been blessed with business and civic leaders who give their time (and treasure) for the betterment of the greater community. I am continuously impressed with the generosity of our citizens—both corporate and private—who regularly lead the nation in giving on a per capita basis. A community is about people, and in Sioux Falls, most care for and are proud of where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Continue to spread the ISG gospel! So far, we’ve had some excellent wins with various master planning projects throughout the region with city governments, economic development corporations, and private developers. I’d like to see these plans evolve into the next phases of development. Our food and industrial prowess is becoming more widely known, too—we’re the design firm on the three largest industrial economic development projects in South Dakota! As we continue to build brand awareness and exceed client expectations with the projects we’ve garnered, I am confident we’ll gain more traction in other markets and be able to provide more innovative services to the public works, K-12, and commercial clients and partners!
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