Outside investors discover Custer, Custer County

A Valentine, Neb., couple recently purchased 40 acres of land at the former STAR Academy grounds just south of Custer, and now the former Shopko building in Custer has been purchased by Keating Resources, a Dallas, Texas, and Naples, Fla.-based investment company. The word is out that South Dakota is open for business and outside money is beginning to pour into the state and Custer County.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that fresh pairs of eyes are taking a look at our area and are liking what they see. Where some see a long-empty 26,175-sq.-ft. former retail trade building, others see an opportunity for repurposing the same. Such is the case of Gerard Keating, the CEO and president of Keating Resources.
Keating and members of his company actively seek out distressed and neglected properties and look at the possibilities of putting them to another than their former uses. His first project in South Dakota was the former Gateway Computer complex at North Sioux City, about two and a half hours from his boyhood home at Atkinson, Neb.
After purchasing the five-building, 750,000 sq. ft. complex, he turned around and sold four of them and kept one in which he offered climate-controlled storage space from 2,000 to 100,000 square feet. He met this kind of storage need, which seems to be prevalent all across the country.
Keating and his brother, Matt, had their first real estate purchase in May 1986 when they were both students at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. They bought a residential duplex and home adjacent to the campus for student rentals. The two added value by remodeling, which doubled their income, and tripled their equity investment within a five-year period. 
These are the kind of American entrepreneurial stories you love to hear. People like these risk-takers are what makes the country a truly capitalistic one. Money made from these initial investments fueled their subsequent real estate ventures in states like South Dakota with tax-friendly business incentives. Keating knows that these kinds of deals can only continue to be made as long as capitalism is king in our country. It’s what has made America great.
Along with this type of business expansion and growth comes people from other states who may not share the same values of mostly conservative South Dakotans. He made it a point to issue a warning to be on the lookout for those who would move here from other states who bring their socialistic values with them.
We, too, share this apprehension, but were pleasantly surprised at the recent Republican Lincoln Day Dinner event in Custer. During the course of the evening, a couple from New York and another couple from California made up part of the crowd. They both moved here recently. When they were introduced to each other, they decided to sit together and enjoy the evening. After the festivities concluded, they left as good friends, having shared values.
Maybe these two couples are prime examples of those fleeing liberal-led Democrat states for greener pastures and more friendly states like South Dakota where they can enjoy the company of like-minded people in relative safety. The state should always welcome these political “refugees” from their former unfriendly states.
We should also always welcome those to our area who seek to add value to our city and county, while still appreciating and valuing those who live here and invest in our community.
We need both if we are to grow and prosper.

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