Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of four stories featuring candidates for Brookings City Council. Two council posts are up for grabs in the April 11 election. Vying for them are Isaiah Croatt, Dan Hansen, Ope Niemeyer and Nick Schmeichel.
BROOKINGS – Isaiah Croatt wants to give back to the town, so he’s running for a three-year seat on the Brookings City Council.
Croatt – “Rhymes with vote,” he said – came to attend South Dakota State University 2 1/2 years ago and wound up starting his own business.
“I’m currently a business consultant, kind of a full-time job, but I also run my own businesses,” Croatt said. “My primary thing I’ve been doing the past year is being a full-time entrepreneur.”
He runs Inceptum Technologies, a digital marketing and website design company, and A Touch of Glass, a seasonal window washing service.
He earned an associate’s degree in psychology from Minnesota West Community and Technical College and came to SDSU before discovering he “was a pretty passionate entrepreneur, so I started doing that full-time.” He plans to resume his education, “it’s just finding the right balance, right now,” Croatt said.
Croatt, who is single, grew up in Lakefield, Minn., where his family lives.
“I started lobbying in Minnesota at the age of 15. I was involved with a group called Start Noticing, which was a tobacco awareness advocate,” Croatt said.
He serves on the board for his enterprises and served in associations and boards while attending SDSU. As a businessman, he’s involved in the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, Enterprise Institute and 1 Million Cups.
“That was kind of my first taste on seeing the culture of Brookings and how cool a place it was and how they really wanted to foster growth and successful entrepreneurs in the community,” Croatt said.
He’s running to offer a perspective from the younger set.
“Especially for young professionals and students in the community, which make up a pretty large portion of Brookings, I hope to offer and be a voice for that perspective,” Croatt said.
“Lately, it seems I’ve been in Pierre every week, so I’m pretty knowledgeable about the goings on in our state, as well as the business economics going on in Brookings,” Croatt said.
He sees Brookings’ priorities as talent, mental health and affordable housing.
Retaining SDSU students is necessary “for employers in Brookings, as well as growing Brookings the way we want it to,” Croatt said.
“I’m a big proponent of jobs move for people, people don’t move for jobs, so if we can retain a lot of our talented individuals, I think we’ll attract more local businesses, but also expand our local businesses,” Croatt said.
He wants local government to get involved with transitional housing and get local volunteers to help bring a facility to support mental health needs to Brookings.
“I’d also love to see an inpatient care facility eventually,” Croatt said.
He thinks tax-increment financing districts could be used for affordable housing and to get different neighborhoods with smaller houses to keep up with demand.
“Another thing I’d like to see is increased use of public transportation, especially for foreign individuals (attending SDSU) or the professors ... who might not have vehicles. Utilize some of those things to take some of the stress off the housing near campus,” Croatt said.
“I think Brookings is probably the most progressive community in South Dakota. That’s the reason I’ve fallen in love with it,” Croatt said.
He envisions the city council as a “very action-oriented body. The council can only do so much, so another thing I’d like to see them do is get the community excited about the different goings on in Brookings because, really, I think the job of the council is to remove barriers and from there, it’s really in the hands of the community,” Croatt said. “I’d like to see a great community/council relationship that gets everyone excited about the future of Brookings, and when some of those barriers are removed, I’d like to see the community step up and accelerate us into the future, as well.”
He praised the council for creating the Mental Health Task Force “to also bring attention and light to some of those issues that maybe were under the table,” Croatt said. “I think it’s an issue that affects a lot of people in our community.”
He wants to get more people his age involved.
“It seems like there’s always a stigma on people my age that we don’t (get involved) in the community. But really, I think we’ve just felt less empowered ... and it doesn’t make students and young professionals want to get involved,” Croatt said.
He wants to get young people registered to vote and “inspire them to feel empowered and get involved and make change in our communities again,” he said.
He believes in Brookings.
“I think we’re growing – we’re definitely growing – I hope we continue to be the unique community in South Dakota or creative capital as we’ve titled ourselves. I think it’s true ... that we are,” he said.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]