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Get set for Sioux Falls

Courtesy Sioux Falls CVB

If America had a heart, it would be beating somewhere near Sioux Falls, S.D., where the 2013 Small Market Meetings Conference will be held Oct. 6-8.

Anatomically, the city of 158,800 is in the country’s upper chest, near where Minnesota’s and Iowa’s borders meet. No surprise, the city’s motto is “The Heart of America.”

Being one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States has served Sioux Falls well in terms of transportation. Sioux Falls Regional Airport executive director Dan Letellier credits a steady influx of new residents and the arrival of a low-cost carrier with increases in his airport’s passenger counts the past two years.

“In  general, the Sioux Falls area has a very healthy and diverse economy,” said Letellier. “We still attract a lot of people moving into the area for employment. That alone has affected air travel.”

Couple that with Frontier Airlines’ arrival to Sioux Falls, with one daily flight to Denver, and you understand why the small airport has set passenger records for the past two years. In 2012, passenger boardings were up 5.2 percent compared to 2011.

The presence of Frontier caused the airport’s other airlines to lower their fares to compete on westbound flights.

Other airlines serving Sioux Falls include Delta, with six to eight flights daily to Minneapolis. In the summer Delta has flights to Detroit; in the fall, to Atlanta. United has five flights daily to Chicago’s O’Hare and four to five flights to Denver.  American has flights to its hubs in Dallas and Chicago. Low-cost carrier Allegiant offers a number of flights several days a week to Las Vegas, Phoenix  (Mesa), Orlando (Sanford), and Los Angeles.

All of the airlines fly jets into Sioux Falls, and although some remain 50-seat commuter jets, a number of flights are being bumped up to larger planes, Letellier said.

For those who opt to drive to the conference, Sioux Falls is at the junction of Interstate 29, which connects Kansas City with the Canadian border, and Interstate 90, which traverses the nation, from Boston to Seattle.