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Department of Commerce Completes Merger
Posted on October 30, 2001

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Governor John Hoeven and Commissioner of Commerce Lee Peterson today announced the completion of the department�s merger of the divisions of Community Services, Economic Development and Finance (ED&F;), Tourism and Workforce Development.

�The four divisions of the Department of Commerce are not only administratively merged, but now they are also under one roof,� Hoeven said. �The fact that this complex process was completed within six months of the legislation�s passage is a credit to the new department�s efficiency.�

Senate Bill 2032, one of the final bills passed during the 2001 Legislative Session, provided for the merger of three cabinet-level departments and the creation of a Workforce Development division.

�The people working for this department are some of the most dedicated I�ve ever worked with. They have been exceptional in their approach to the merger and the many issues that arise when going through this kind of process,� Peterson said.

Several efficiencies have developed as a result of the Department of Commerce merger, according to Peterson. �The Community Services Division now coordinates with the North Dakota Development Fund on loans and equity placements, which allows us to deliver a broader spectrum of financial assistance to businesses and communities. Our people are better aware of one another�s programs and have begun to work creatively on projects to achieve greater advantages for our customers,� Peterson said.

Community Services also is working with the Energy and Environmental Research Center to develop 10 additional wind-monitoring sites across the state. Over 150 applications were received, indicative of the widespread interest in wind power.

Within ED&F;, extensive work to attract out-of-state business into North Dakota is bearing fruit. �Just two weeks ago, we announced the location of CBF Group in Fargo,� Hoeven said. �A UND alumni founded the company, which plans to employ 400 people by the end of 2002. Success stories like this will produce the kind of higher-paying jobs we need for North Dakotans.�

Company site visits to different North Dakota communities are increasing, according to Peterson. �Slowly, as we make people aware of the impeccable work ethic, affordable, dependable energy and available workforce they will find in North Dakota, we believe decision makers will put North Dakota on their short list for possible site selection, and we need to be on that short list.�

Research results expected at the end of November will drive the Tourism Division�s future marketing efforts so there is a more efficient, cost-effective use of the state�s limited resources. The Division is working hard to highlight opportunities presented by the Lewis and Clark bicentennial. Now available is the 2002-03 official highway map for North Dakota. The map features Lewis and Clark�s expedition though the state. The state Travel Guide will be released in January and will include a four-page feature section on Lewis and Clark.

In addition, Tourism acted as host for three screenings of the film Wooly Boys, shot on location in western North Dakota, in early October. The movie was financed in part by the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Development Fund. More than 1,100 people attended screenings in Bismarck and Fargo, with another 600 enjoying the film in Minneapolis.

Several initiatives are underway in the Workforce Development Division. The division is pursuing a cost-effective, online employment and resume management system for employers and economic development professionals to improve alumni and out-of-state workforce recruitment. The website address www.ndhasjobs.com will be live by the first quarter of 2002.

Another initiative involves the creation of a single point of contact for all core data information on North Dakota�s labor force, workforce availability and job skills requirements. Good, current data on these issues is critical to North Dakota�s future economic growth.

�The Department of Commerce is a good example of how government ought to work,� Hoeven said. �We have four divisions and more than 50 employees joining together to make better use of limited resources. We are able to do more because of the synergy created through this merger.�


Contact: Tracy Metzger, Dept. of Commerce (701) 328-5352

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