Gov. Jack Dalrymple, along with Greater North Dakota Chamber President Andy Peterson and Kathy Neset, co-chair of the 2020 & Beyond Steering Committee, today presented the final report and recommendations for the 2020 & Beyond development plan to the Economic Development Foundation.
2020 & Beyond is a 20-year development initiative focused on building successful strategies for North Dakota's future and positioning the state's economic growth on the value of people, a unique quality of place and the state's diverse opportunities.
"2020 & Beyond continues to build on the aggressive development strategies that have brought North Dakota economic success and seeks to capitalize on the unique opportunities before us," Dalrymple said. "Our people, places and opportunities are key as we work to continue to grow our economy, enrich the livability of our communities and enhance the lives of our people."
Dalrymple, along with the Greater North Dakota Chamber, launched 2020 & Beyond in January, encouraging citizens to participate in discussions that would help shape North Dakota's future. The initiative worked to advance the state's long standing emphasis on job creation and building a positive business climate, while focusing on enhancing North Dakota's quality of life and the livability of its communities.
The Greater North Dakota Chamber and the 2020 & Beyond steering committee gathered over 1,700 ideas through public meetings held throughout the state and through an online portal at www.ND2020andBeyond.com. The 13-member steering committee, made up of state legislators and business leaders from across North Dakota, identified 13 recommendation categories in its final report.
Three key recommendations that emerged from the public meetings include enhanced child care opportunities, city planning initiatives and public/private research and development, efforts reinforced by the Economic Development Foundation's strategic plan.
A common message expressed at the public meetings was the need for more child care services in North Dakota's growing communities. The Board of University and Trust Lands, chaired by Dalrymple, launched a pilot program this year to provide a state cost-share for any political subdivision willing to sponsor a new or remodeled facility for day care providers. This incentive makes it possible to nearly eliminate the capital costs in establishing a day care facility. The response was overwhelming and five pilot projects are moving forward. Dalrymple said he intends to expand the program, making it available statewide, and he recommended $5 million in his executive budget.
Members of the 2020 & Beyond steering committee also regularly heard a call to enhance main street districts and downtown areas across the state. More people than ever are expressing an interest in living in cities and towns that have services and recreation within walking distance. The state's Renaissance Zone program has had a positive impact on the quality of life in our main streets and downtown areas. Dalrymple said the state can also help by providing community planning assistance through the Department of Commerce.
Another common theme voiced at the public meetings was strong support for utilizing the state's universities to advance commerce and economic diversity through private-sector partnerships. Dalrymple said the Centers of Excellence program has been a successful job creator, but a new model for public-private partnerships will make better use of the state's universities and their research capabilities. Going forward, Dalrymple will propose to the legislature that a new private-public partnership model be implemented to assist small- and medium-sized businesses that wish to develop products with the assistance of North Dakota's existing business incubators and previously funded Centers of Excellence. Through this new model, referred to as "Research North Dakota" or "RND," the development and commercialization of new products will be achieved on a project-by-project basis, with the assistance of state research and expertise.