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Keynote Speakers

Aaron Merchen

Senior Director, Policy & Programs, Early Childhood Education, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation 

The Early Childhood and Business Advisory Council will bring together local chambers of commerce with key stakeholders, including state and local early childhood advocates, business owners, and state administrators, to drive progress in communities where significant barriers to child care exist. He will also speak to how South Dakota has been chosen to participate in a second cohort and continue the business collaborative work within the state.


Nancy Fishman

National Director


Nancy will share how ReadyNation serves and helps with existing child care efforts in South Dakota, and will also share a special child care report they are releasing.  


About ReadyNation: ReadyNation leverages the experience, influence, and expertise of more than 2,000 business executives to promote public policies and programs that build a stronger workforce and economy. Since 2006, ReadyNation members have made a bottom-line case for effective, bipartisan investments in children as the future workforce that will drive success in the global marketplace.


Joe Fretwell

Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) Business Development Program Officer, Early Care & Education

  • What makes child care a difficult business model in South Dakota?

  • Results of scenarios and modeling: Joe will provide an overview of data collected from South Dakota providers and give a presentation of findings around what providers can afford currently vs. what they might be able to afford with policy changes

  • Policy recommendations: which will include state subsidy rates, economic development activities, local investments, and more


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Brooke Rollag

Executive Director

Lake Area Improvement Corporation

Brooke Rollag, a seasoned banking professional with fifteen years of experience, made a pivotal career shift two years ago when she embraced the role of Director of Economic Development at the Lake Area Improvement Corp (LAIC). Born and raised in a small town, Brooke excelled in finance, earning recognition for her expertise in financial management and client relations. Her passion for community enrichment eventually led her to LAIC, where she passionately champions their mission to enhance the Madison and Lake County community's well-being, drive economic growth, and improve local infrastructure.

Tim Reed
CEO of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation

Tim Reed is currently serving his first term as a State Senator after serving three terms as a State Representative in the South Dakota Legislature.  Before his election to the Legislature, he served in Brookings City Government for a total of 13 years, 8 years as Mayor. Tim became the CEO of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation in February 2022 and is leading and facilitating economic development in the Brookings region. As a state legislator, he has served on Tax, Local Government, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce and Energy Committees and is currently serving as the Chair of the Senate Local Government Committee.   He is the past chair of the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment Advisory Council.

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