Gov. Jack Dalrymple today highlighted some of the main ideas expressed by North Dakotans who are helping guide 2020 & Beyond, a 20-year development initiative that will build on North Dakota's successful economic growth strategies. Dalrymple, who was joined by North Dakota Chamber of Commerce President Andy Peterson and 2020 & Beyond co-chair Kathy Neset, also shared some initial recommendations to build on the state's economic growth by focusing on the value of our people, our unique quality of place and the state's diverse opportunities.
"For the past decade we have stayed the course on an aggressive development strategy that has supported tremendous economic growth, leading to the creation of more than 65,000 new jobs throughout the state and personal income growth more than double the national average," Dalrymple said. "Building on our proven goals and strategies, 2020 & Beyond will help us capitalize on the opportunities created from our economic growth."
Dalrymple, along with the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, launched 2020 & Beyond in January, encouraging citizens to participate in discussions that will help shape North Dakota's economic development policy. The initiative will 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 North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the 2020 & Beyond steering committee have held public meetings throughout the state to gather input on the opportunities and challenges to be addressed in the economic development plan. The North Dakota Department of Commerce has also compiled feedback submitted online. The 13-member steering committee, made up of state legislators and business leaders from across North Dakota, is expected to issue a final report next month.
Dalrymple offered the following highlights and recommendations to build on North Dakota's success:
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 Gov. 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. Dalrymple recommends the state provide 75 percent of the costs to establish a daycare facility or to expand an existing center.
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 core areas of our cities and towns and within walking distance to services and recreation. Our Renaissance Zone program has had a very positive impact on the quality of life in our urban centers. Dalrymple said the state can also help by providing community planning assistance. Building great places to live in North Dakota can be facilitated by our 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. Matching funds will be available, but businesses will no longer be allowed to offer in-kind matches and investments will be made on a competitive basis.
The North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the 2020 & Beyond steering committee held nine public meetings across the state and gathered more than 1,700 ideas and recommendations to build on North Dakota's economic success and to enhance the state's quality of life, said Andy Peterson, president of the state Chamber of Commerce.
Kathy Neset, owner of Neset Consulting and co-chair of the 2020 & Beyond steering committee, said other common topics involve education, housing demand and the development of value-added enterprises.
Members of the 2020 & Beyond Steering Committee include Kathy Neset; Bill Marcil Jr., Forum Communications; David Reiten, Reiten Television; Karl Bollingberg, Alerus Financial; Kari Newman-Ness, Newman Signs; Wally Goulet, National Information Solutions Cooperative; Joseph Rothschiller, Steffes Corporation; Lee Ann Johnston, Dairy Queen; Senator Tony Grindberg; Senator Lonnie Laffen; Senator Mac Schneider; Representative Ron Guggisberg; Representative Scott Louser and Representative Don Vigesaa.