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Strong Partnerships Build Economic Development
Posted on April 17, 2002

Economic development brought Bushel 42 and 31 jobs to Crosby with potential for 19 more. That�s 50 jobs in a community of about 1,000 people.

Partnerships made the difference, says Linda Butts, director of the Division of Economic Development and Finance (ED&F;) in the state Department of Commerce. Butts spoke Tuesday evening at the Rural Renaissance program in Fargo.

�Our future depends on the vitality of our communities . . . all of our communities,� Butts says.

Butts says the Commerce Department has been getting things done in economic development, according to Butts. The North Dakota Development Fund has placed $5.5 million in 39 projects. Of these, 19 were start-ups, 18 were expansions and 2 were relocations to the state. The second major funding program, the Agricultural Products Utilization Commission or APUC, has funded 28 projects so far this biennium, including Bushel 42, the pasta specialty plant in Crosby.

Besides the funding programs, there also are business development programs. One program with rural emphasis is through The Center for Technology. To date, Butts says the center has offered computer training to 7,000 people in 55 small towns from Ashley to Sherwood.

Another program provides grants for marketing purposes. The Partners in Marketing program has $175,000 set aside for economic development that emphasizes local regions.

The Business Development program assists local developers �who involve us when a project reaches enough maturity for financing,� Butts describes.

Doing things differently is a guiding factor at the Department of Commerce. One big difference is the development of public and private sector relationships at the state level. Butts uses a new program, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, as an example. Just 15 months old, this program already has tapped industry leaders to help 75 businesses and 800 employees in the state, including Turtle Mountain Manufacturing in Belcourt and Buz Manufacturing in Carrington.

A great example of out-of-the-box thinking is the new North Dakota Economic Development Foundation of business leaders from across North Dakota, Butts says. �Their mission is to advise us in economic development for the state. The foundation was created and funded by the legislature and supported by Gov. John Hoeven.�

�There�s more to do,� Butts adds. �We�re going to the next level of economic development. We announced today that one of the nation�s leading economic development firms will create a strategic plan for us. This plan will be our department roadmap.� The plan will set benchmarks to help the public and private sectors with economic development in North Dakota.

In any given year, there are about 1,500 major economic development opportunities and about 15,000 economic developers pursuing them.

�We want those jobs,� Butts says. �We want better paying jobs for North Dakota. Our goal is to make North Dakota a better place to work and live.�


For more information: Linda Butts, Director, Division of Economic Development & Finance, Department of Commerce 701-328-5342

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