MINOT — Friday was a busy day for Governor Burgum and his staff. Their trip to Minot started with the ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of Phase Ml-1 of the Souris River Flood Protection Project. Then it was off to a quick lunch with Senator John Hoeven and other dignitaries, and according to Gov. Burgum “a great discussion on how to speed up the Souris River Flood Project”.
Then an entourage of local and state officials were led on a guided tour of Downtown Minot by Josh Wolsky, Executive Director of the Downtown Business and Professional Association. Highlights of the tour included an explanation of the TIF district formed to aid in the financing of the remodeling of the Big M building by EPIC. The plan is to have a multi-use building including retail and apartments.
The tour went North on Main Street and stopped briefly at Margie’s Art Glass Studio, one of the businesses that will undergo a major façade uplift thanks to a program that use City of Minot funds to offset some of the cost of the renovation. The goal, according to Wolsky, is to bring back the original look and feel of Downtown Minot.
The tour then veered a bit to the East on Central Avenue with Wolsky pointing our both potential flood and business development taking place at the current time.
Once back at Central Campus, many of the out of town guests were treated to a whirlwind tour of Minot that included drive byes of the new Magic City Discovery Center that will open later this year, west to the soon to be second public high school in Minot at the site of the Cognizant building. A trip south on 16th Street would take the tour past Magic City Campus, the new Blu on Broadway building and back to Central Campus for the roundtable discussion chaired by Gov. Burgum and Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma.
Gov Burgum’s Main Street Initiative has an emphasis on “Healthy, Vibrant, Communities” according to Burgum. “We need to design our cities for growth” according to Burgum, who pointed out that the state of North Dakota has spent over 838 Million dollars for flood protection. “But we have to work harder to complete the project in a more-timely fashion,” he said. The Governor pointed out the continued need to develop and build a workforce of skilled workers.
“In North Dakota we have over 30,000 jobs available,” said Burgum. “And pretty much everywhere you go you hear the same challenge. We need a larger work force. We need to attract workers to North Dakota, and we need to find ways to keep our young people here.”
His words fell on the ears of the many young people from Central Campus who were able to watch the Main Street Roundtable from the bleachers surrounding the gym floor where the roundtable took place.
Mayor Shaun Sipma followed praising the personal investment that has been made in Downtown Minot by several local entrepreneurs. Sipma said that sometimes it just takes government “getting out of the way. And we did that by overhauling development processes.”
Mayor Sipma continued, “The dawn of a new era somewhat began when Minot voted by a resounding 84.4% to build a second high school. We have ways to capitalize on the growth in the region.”
Several members on the roundtable panel showed a concern every city has to find and retain a workforce to keep up with the development in North Dakota. Justin Anderson, Executive Director of the Minot Area Council of the Arts pointed out that today’s work force is different than previous generations in that “they look for a place to live, a place that fits their needs and attracts them to a city, first…and then the look for a job later."
"And so, we need to build an attractive place where people want to live, long term,” added in Ryan Ackerman, a local developer.
There were several Minot High students on the roundtable panel who added in their perceptions and ideas on how to not only attract but maintain young people to not only Minot, but other cities.
Stephanie Schoenrock from Visit Minot said that tourism is important in drawing people in for a first look at Minot.
“Downtown Minot is moving in the right direction. It’s incredible to see the momentum in not only Minot, but the whole state. We’ll have visitors from 48 states during June, July, and August,” said Schoenrock.
Trinity Health CFO also echoed the need for a larger workforce as Trinity looks to open their new Southwest Minot campus in 2023.
“We are working to manufacture our nursing workforce with financial incentives. We also continue to emphasize recruiting people to Minot. Nurses, doctors…they are all important,” said the CFO.
Governor Burgum also pointed out the need for Minot to continue to develop ties to the Minot Air Force Base.
“You have over 12,500 people that are a part of your community. You need to reach out and embrace them every chance you get,” said Gov. Burgum.
Kevin Black, another downtown developer re-iterated that “there has never been a more exciting time to be part of Downtown Minot.” But Black was also quick to point out the need for growth in the workforce.
Several other leaders on the community and state level were part of the Main Street Roundtable discussion and were eager to add in opportunities to empower services provided for business development.