ND-MN Group Develops Five-Year Plan to Sustain Prosperous Economy

May 22, 2014

While it is common for states, regions or cities to develop economic strategies when times get rough, the Valley Prosperity Partnership hopes to capitalize on the unprecedented job growth the Red River Valley has experienced in recent years to build a more innovative economy. A new, five-year action agenda, drafted in partnership with Fourth Economy, offers many possible action items for the region, which includes parts of North Dakota and Minnesota. Priority areas include talent attraction and development research output, entrepreneurial activity, water management, infrastructure development and marketing.

The Red River Valley region straddles the North Dakota-Minnesota border, incorporating the cities of Fargo, Grand Forks, Grafton and the Wahpeton-Breckinridge region. In recent years, growth in this region has far outpaced the national economy, according to the authors, though a number of barriers have put a ceiling on the success of the region.

One of the key obstacles has been a lack of skilled workers to fill the many jobs that have been created during this boom period. These workers are often intimidated by the prospect of the Red River Valley’s severe winters, or pulled to the western part of North Dakota, where the energy industry has fueled its own economic boom. The current U.S. energy boom has created an additional problem for the Valley’s labor market. Media stories about the strength of the energy industry have led to the perception that only energy jobs are available in the eastern part of the state. The report authors suggest that the region create a better strategy to communicate the diversity of jobs available in the Valley.

Other workforce strategies proposed in the report include better integration of veterans and military families into the economy, a Valley-wide internship network, recruitment of post-secondary students and alumni, initiatives to recruit foreign-born talent, a career pathways program, expanding arts and cultural opportunities and embracing the draw of the outdoors as a marketing opportunity. The authors include detailed potential action items in each of these categories.

The action agenda also proposes a number of strategies to expand the region’s research capacity, and capitalize on that research by accelerating entrepreneurial activity. In order to increase the volume and value of research the authors recommend collecting information of the region’s research programs, industry outreach initiatives, research strengths and the research needs of local industries. A similar information-driven approach should be used to increase entrepreneurship – finding out what entrepreneurs need and creating new initiatives to coordinate outreach efforts.

The Valley Prosperity Partnership will take the lead over the next five years in selecting and implementing actions recommended in the report.

Read the action agenda…

North Dakotaregionalism, strategic plan