South Dakota courts Minnesota businesses with looser coronavirus restrictions

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem

South Dakota is trying to lure Minnesota businesses to relocate by promoting its looser coronavirus restrictions, but Minnesota's governor predicted businesses would stay put.

South Dakota is spending $369,500 on an advertising campaign in Minnesota now through Labor Day. Ads will air on TV, radio, social media, and in print, according to a news release.

The ads are aimed at business owners who were frustrated by forced closures imposed by Gov. Tim Walz to control the spread of coronavirus.

"Here in South Dakota, we trust our people. We respect their rights. We will not shut them down," South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, says in one of the ads.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, scoffed at the attempt to court businesses. Asked about the ads this week, Walz pointed to South Dakota's small population and said Minnesota offered more to do and higher-rated schools.

"I think people will stay in Minnesota," Walz told reporters. "The idea we’re going to pit one another and we’re going to take this COVID situation as a reason to start (moving) business, I don’t think it’s a good sell."

A spokeswoman for South Dakota's economic development office did not respond to questions about whether the ads have successfully led any businesses to relocate.

South Dakota has a slightly higher coronavirus infection rate, at 88 confirmed cases per 10,000 residents, compared with Minnesota's 80 cases per 10,000, according to public health data from both states.

But Minnesota's death rate is double South Dakota's: 2.7 deaths per 10,000 residents, compared with 1.3.