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 North Dakota Department of Commerce
 1600 E. Century Ave. Suite 2
 Bismarck, ND 58503

For Immediate Release
Feb. 23, 2006

For more information contact:
Julie Fedorchak, Communications Manager
701-328-5300, 701-391-1140

Commerce Promotes North Dakota’s Competitive Advantages
At World Out-sourcing Summit

The North Dakota Department of Commerce (DOC) attended the Outsourcing World Summit Feb. 20-22 in Orlando, Fl., to promote North Dakota’s high-level, on-shore competitive advantages for business activities.

Linda Butts, director of the DOC’s Economic Development and Finance Division, participated in a panel with three international business executives titled, "On-Shore, Near-Shore, or Off-Shore? The Debate Continues…" The Department also had an exhibit booth at the conference to network with top-level executives in the high-tech industry.

Butts said the DOC recognizes jobs are fluid and move around the world based on economic advantage. The forward-looking question for North Dakota is where we can be competitive in this global arena.

"If a product or process is driven by cost alone, it’s becoming more and more difficult to defend against global competition," Butts said. "Growing our state in this environment requires us to help existing business stay competitive while at the same time looking for new opportunities for North Dakota in the global arena."

Butts and two business developers from Commerce attended, not to argue against off-shoring but to make a case for the niches North Dakota can fill on-shore.

"Off-shoring is simply a fact of our times. It is a growing ‘best practice’ for many American firms driven by the fiercely competitive global marketplace," Butts said. "We emphasize that every process has its place, and North Dakota can fill some important niches for companies."

As other countries become more sophisticated, the services they offer for businesses looking to move off-shore have improved significantly. For example, companies first looked off-shore for basic manufacturing or data-entry services. Today companies are sending engineering, accounting and some medical services off-shore, Butts said.

"The competitive advantages of the future will be our ability to commercialize the intellectual capital in our universities," she said. "This is why, from a public policy standpoint, the governor is placing so much emphasis on initiatives like the Centers of Excellence and in the research and development capacities in our state."

At the Summit, the DOC team promoted North Dakota’s expertise in RFID, plant-made pharmaceuticals, high-performance computing, UAV technology and next generation biotechnology. They highlighted North Dakota’s advanced capabilities such as the only academic facility in the world to automate the development of new polymers, the $83-million aerospace complex and the nation’s only Center of Excellence in Hydrogen Technology.

Other key messages they delivered are the availability of real access to political officials in a stable, pro-business government as well as North Dakota’s affordable costs for land and energy, low workers compensation premiums and taxes, our world-class workforce, and our low absenteeism rates -- all qualities that existing North Dakota companies rank high on the list of advantages of locating here.

DOC Commissioner Shane Goettle said the competitive global economy forces everyone in economic development to be more focused and sophisticated.

"Businesses base their decisions on the bottom line – where is it easiest and most profitable to expand their company," Goettle said. "In our efforts to grow North Dakota, we recognize the need to be very focused on leveraging North Dakota’s existing advantages and developing new growth opportunities from within our state."

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