General ND Business News
North Dakota's Agritourism Experiences Continue to Grow With New Providers
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jun 16, 2013.National interest in connecting with the rural way of life continues to increase, making North Dakota a prime destination. As a result of the interest, North Dakota's agritourism offerings continue to grow as more of the state's providers open their doors to visitors.
Agritourism is the practice of inviting guests to visit and/or participate in working farm or ranch activities. According to Dean Ihla, tourism development manager at North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division, it's an opportunity to educate visitors on current farm and ranch operations while showcasing our rich agricultural heritage. "Farms and ranches participating in agritourism activities provide urban residents with hands-on experience and an up-close-and-personal snapshot of rural life," Ihla said.
North Dakota Tourism has been promoting agritourism experiences for a number of years, but a formal program began in 2010. When registered in North Dakota Tourism's program, the agritourism provider receives promotional assistance and greater limited liability protection. Of North Dakota's 48 agritourism providers, 27 are registered with North Dakota Tourism.
Ihla noted that interest in offering agritourism experiences is strong and continues to grow. "Right now I'm aware of 37 providers who are considering adding it to their operation."
New or expanded agritourism opportunities for 2013 include:
• gardendwellersFARM, North Dakota's only culinary herb farm that specializes in more than 15 varieties of cooking herbs, has opened in its new location. Owners Barry and Holly Mawby use their 20 years of experience to teach visitors how to grow, cook with and preserve high-quality seasonings. Visitors can attend cooking demonstrations, tour herb fields, participate in tastings, create home decorations using fresh herbs and learn about small fruit culture for North Dakota. Herbs are also available for purchase. gardendwellersFARM is located 10 miles from Esmond on Highway 19 or approximately 14 miles south and eight miles east (gravel county road) of Rugby. www.gardendwellersfarm.com
• A 5,000-acre working family farm near Carrington is home to Pipestem Creek Bed and Birding. Given its proximity to prime birding opportunities - Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge is five miles down the road - Pipestem Creek markets mainly to birders by offering on-site birding, tours and lodging. The family also welcomes hunters and anyone wanting to experience life on a rural, small grain farm. Guests can pick fresh vegetables from the garden or pick flowers from the many floral gardens. www.pipestemcreek.com
• Lone Butte Ranch, 15 miles from the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, offers lodging in two authentic log cabins spread out on a serene Badlands ranch. Each cabin has a pen and hay barn for guests who bring their own horses to ride in the Badlands. Other activities include birding and hiking. www.lonebutteranch.com
• Prairiewood Winery offers an informative tour of its vineyard and winery in southeastern North Dakota, west of Lisbon. Guests can also sample wine available for purchase. Hours are seasonal, and they also accept appointments for group gatherings and parties. www.facebook.com/pages/Prairiewood-Winery/135107236529146
• Llerenas Apiaries and A Touch of Honey in Linton will be offering apiary tours from July 15 through September 30, giving guests an up close look at how honey is made and processed. Guests start the tours at the bee yard to look into a beehive and see the bees at work, then proceed to the operations to watch the honey removal process and lastly the bottling process. Honey products are available for purchase in the gift shop. Tours are available by appointment only by calling 701-254-5455 or by emailing email@example.com.
• Guests can explore prairie vistas at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge near Havana and stay in an authentic Ponderosa Pine lodge with all the amenities of a modern home. Decorated with local artwork and rustic wood furniture, this 14-bedroom lodge comfortably accommodates 45 guests and is sure to be a destination for outdoor enthusiasts, crafters, quilters, family gatherings and the casual traveler. This family-owned business on 3,000 acres of farmland will later expand to include offerings like first-hand farm and ranch experiences and tours and horse-drawn buggy and sleigh rides. www.cdplodge.com
For more information on becoming an agritourism operator, please contact Ihla at the North Dakota Tourism Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 701-328-3505.
Seven Tourism Entities Awarded Tourism Expansion Grants
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jun 16, 2013.Seven North Dakota tourism entities received 2013 Tourism Expansion Grants from the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Tourism Division. These grants support new or expanding tourism or recreation facilities by providing funding for infrastructure projects.
Created in 2007, Tourism Expansion Grants are matching grants requiring the sponsor to provide $1 for every $1 of grant money being requested. The total amount of grant dollars awarded for this program is $100,000 with individual grant amounts ranging from $5,000 to $24,000.
Funds may be used to build, remodel or expand tourism and recreation attractions, and historic sites. The attraction must have the ability to attract a visitor 50 miles one-way and retain a visitor for at least three hours.
Recipients of the 2013 Expansion Grants are:
• Artspace, Minot, for tourism-related programming through a partnership with the Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association and the Minot Area Council of the Arts in the new Artspace Building in downtown Minot.
• Birding Drives Dakota, Carrington, for directional signage and trailhead kiosks on the self-guided birding trail between Carrington and Jamestown.
• Rolling Plains Adventures, Sterling, for a guest K9 facility and staff housing at Black Leg Ranch.
• Ground Up Adventures, Grand Forks, to establish a seasonally-permanent structure on the Red River to serve as a facility for canoe, kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals. Water activity instructions will also be based at the facility.
• Dunn County Fair Association, Killdeer, for the Plaza of Western Cultures visitor center on the Killdeer Mountain/Four Bears Scenic Byway.
• Bonanzaville USA, West Fargo, for the Rotating Exhibit Gallery in the new Lucien Barnes Pavilion.
• Sakakawea Sunset Lodge, Riverdale, for landscaping and "Welcome to Lake Sakakawea" sign as part of their new lodging facility.
More details about the grant programs can be found at: http://www.ndtourism.com/industry/nd-tourism-grants/
Governor's Workforce & HR Conference Scheduled
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jun 10, 2013.The 2013 North Dakota Governor's Workforce & Human Resources Conference will be held September 18-20 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo. This year's event will focus on the state's fast-changing workforce environment and will allow participants opportunities to network with other industry professionals from across the region.
"This event is a great opportunity to connect with more than 300 business executives, educators, young professionals and community leaders from across the state to lay the groundwork for continued talent growth in North Dakota," Governor Jack Dalrymple said.
The three-day conference will feature a number of speakers including Robin Creasman, an award-winning television producer, author and entertainment marketing expert and Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., an international keynote speaker specializing in leadership and nonverbal communication.
The conference is hosted by Gov. Dalrymple, the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the North Dakota Society for Human Resource Management. For additional information or to register for the conference visit: www.NDWorkforceSummit.com.
Dalrymple Congratulates BNSF Railway on Opening of New Bismarck Office
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jun 02, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple today congratulated BNSF Railway on its opening of an economic development office in downtown Bismarck. The new BNSF office, located in the Wells Fargo Building at 400 East Broadway, will house economic development, sales and marketing staff to enhance the railway company's customer services.
"Railway transportation is critical to agriculture, energy and to all other industries in North Dakota," Dalrymple said. "BNSF continues to make tremendous investments in North Dakota and I am pleased that they are opening this office to enhance services for their regional customers."
BNSF Railway employs more than 1,500 people in North Dakota and has hired more than 400 employees within the last two years.
Dalrymple Pledges State's Assistance in Developing Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Project
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jun 02, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple today pledged the state's support to assist WBI Energy Inc. in developing a natural gas pipeline project that would further reduce the flaring of natural gas in western North Dakota.
WBI Energy Inc., a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc., announced plans today for a proposed pipeline that would transport Bakken-produced natural gas from western North Dakota to industrial, commercial and residential customers in eastern North Dakota as well as other markets throughout the Midwest.
"This proposed project is another example of the great progress we are making in North Dakota," Dalrymple said. "We are committed to working with WBI Energy and the entire energy industry to further reduce flaring, add value to our resources, to continue diversifying our economy in North Dakota and support our national energy security."
MDU Resources and WBI Energy announced a proposal to build a 400-mile natural gas pipeline that would extend from about 20 miles southwest of Williston to a Viking Gas interconnection in western Minnesota. The proposed pipeline would be capable of transporting about 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, and could be expanded to transport as much as 500 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The project is estimated to cost between $650 million and $700 million to complete.
WBI Energy plans to begin accepting long-term service commitments from natural gas producers late this summer. Construction of the pipeline could begin in early 2016, provided that service commitments and regulatory permits are secured.
North Dakota's Strong Tourism Industry Creates Demand for More Rental Providers
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 30, 2013.Many travelers want to experience North Dakota's outdoor adventures without having to bring anything but their adventurous spirit. Thanks to North Dakota's strong tourism industry, the rental business is promising and in demand.
According to North Dakota Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman, visitor research shows travelers come to North Dakota to experience the state's abundant outdoors. "North Dakota visitors want to experience our outdoor adventures like hunting, fishing and mountain biking, to name a few," Otte Coleman said. "In looking at existing rental offerings in the state and the increasing number of people traveling here to experience outdoor activities, there's a need for more rental providers."
Existing rental businesses include businesses for bicycles, boats, kayaks, motorcycle and snowmobile rentals.
Dakota Cyclery, which has offered bicycle sales and service for more than 30 years, began operating bicycle rentals and a shuttle service out of its shop in Medora in 1994. Owners Jennifer and Loren Morlock have seen interest in mountain biking grow over the years, especially with the development of the epic Maah Daah Hey Trail near Medora. Recognizing the need for services in the western North Dakota town, they developed several different packages and options for riding the Maah Daah Hey Trail.
Missouri River Kayak Rentals was started in June 2010 by Becky Skalsky and Sandy McKay. The two women created the business to share their love for sun, family fun and the sport of kayaking. "We like kayaking so much and just wanted to share North Dakota's beautiful river valley sites and gorgeous lake views with guests," McKay said. "It's a great way to really appreciate the peaceful, natural experience of the Missouri River." McKay also notes a large increase in kayaking since they started their business three years ago. Missouri River Kayak Rentals offers several options for shuttle, drop-off and pick-up.
Twin Oaks Resort on Lake Metigoshe near Bottineau offers a variety of rentals for summer and winter activities. Resort Manager Andrew Renich says the resort began offering pontoon and snowmobile rentals in 2008, and they're very popular. "Our rental services, which range from bicycles, pedal boats, pontoons and snowmobiles, give guests the opportunity to explore the Turtle Mountains and Lake Metigoshe without having to trailer a boat or sled from home," he said.
Travelers wanting to fish but not wanting the hassle of trailering a boat can enjoy the convenience of boat rentals at several North Dakota resorts. Eastbay Campground and Woodland Resort on Devils Lake rent fishing boats and/or pontoons. Dakota Waters Resort on Lake Sakakawea also caters to anglers by providing fishing boat rentals.
For those wanting to tame the open road, Stutsman County Harley-Davidson in Jamestown and Magic City Harley-Davidson in Minot have begun renting Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Those interested in starting a tourism rental business can contact Dean Ihla at the North Dakota Tourism Division at email@example.com or by calling 701-328-3505. North Dakota Tourism can assist with promoting the tourism experience. In addition, the Tourism Division has grant programs to assist with promotion or construction of tourism-related businesses and attractions. Information can be found at NDtourism.com.
APUC Committed Funding Requests Totaling $332,065
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 29, 2013.The North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission (APUC) awarded funding requests for six projects totaling $332,065 at its quarterly meeting held May 15th at the NDSU Alumni Center in Fargo.
APUC is a program of the North Dakota Department of Commerce which administers grant programs for researching and developing new and expanded uses for North Dakota agricultural products. The grants can be used for basic and applied research, marketing and utilization, farm diversification, nature based agri-tourism, prototype and technology, and technical assistance.
The following requests were reviewed:
Cloverdale Foods Company, Mandan, was awarded $101,000 to defray the costs associated to develop, initiate, and maintain the Big Flavor Tour which includes promotional equipment, Cloverdale Brand Ambassadors, and loads of delicious Cloverdale product. Additional digital media efforts such as social media, web and video interaction will be included in the tour.
Black Leg Ranch / Rolling Plains Adventures, McKenzie, will receive funding of $21,000 to assist in the costs associated with integrating cover crop/food plot area. Anticipating this will entice added awareness/education to increase soil health while maintaining a better environment for wildlife. A portion of the funds will also be used to purchase meeting room supplies for corporate events, farm tours, and team building activities.
Great Plains Processing, LLC, Fargo, was awarded $81,000 to assist Northern Plains Grain & Milling's efforts to give North Dakota farmers additional value added options in their crop rotations. They plan to do this by introducing producers to and assist in the marketing of specialty crops in areas of the state where these options are currently not available locally.
Velva Development Corporation, Velva, was awarded $61,000 to defray the costs of a project that will examine a potential location of a livestock auction facility. Livestock producers from the region have organized in an effort to determine the feasibility of building a new facility in the Minot area. A third party consultant will be hired to analyze the opportunity for a new livestock auction to be successful and make recommendations relating to business location, size and scale.
The following projects were awarded, and are pending funding upon completion of contingencies:
NDSU Department of Animal and Range Sciences, Fargo, was awarded $33,800 assist in research that will explore how the maternal nutrition during pregnancy can impact the growth and development of calves after birth. The precursor for optimal growth is adequately placental growth and development. This study will evaluate placental tissues from cows fed varying amounts of feed throughout gestation and determine how her intake impacts the growth and nutrient carrying capacity of her placenta. Ultimately, proper placental growth and function equates to healthy calves.
NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, Fargo, will receive funding of $34,265 to defray the costs associated with conducting a study for the production of raspberries and blackberries in the northern Great Plains, which is currently limited due to lack of cultivators that are adapted to the harsh winters. These cultivators have the potential to be used as cultivators or germplasm for future breeding of raspberry and blackberry.
The next APUC board hearing will be held July 18th in Medora. Applications for the July meeting must be received by July 1st. Prototype and Technical Assistance grants must be received by June 1st.
Area Development Magazine Selects North Dakota for Economic Development Award
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 29, 2013.Area Development Magazine, the leading economic development publication covering site selection and facility planning, has awarded North Dakota a 2013 Silver Shovel Award.
Area Development's annual Shovel Awards recognize state economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new businesses and investments in new and expanded facilities.
"North Dakota has successfully implemented a long-term strategy to create one of the best business climates in the nation," Commerce Economic Development & Finance Division Director Paul Lucy said. "Our goal is to provide an environment for North Dakota-based businesses that strengthens their competitive position in the marketplace. Our success over the past year is only the tip-of-the-iceberg of things to come for our state."
The award is presented to states with the highest weighted scores based on the number of high-valued added jobs created per capita, amount of investment, number of new facilities added and industry diversity represented by these projects. Each of the 50 states was invited by Area Development to submit information about its top 10 job creation and investment projects.
"This award from one of the leading economic development publications in the nation is additional evidence that our efforts are paying off," Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said. "The most important evidence is in the fact that North Dakotans are prospering, their wages are increasing and people continue to recognize North Dakota as a leader in economic growth."
A report on the 2013 Shovel Award winners will be published in the upcoming issue of Area Development and posted online at http://www.areadevelopment.com.
The North Dakota Department of Commerce works to improve the quality of life for North Dakota citizens by leading efforts to attract, retain and expand wealth. Commerce serves businesses and communities statewide through committed people and partners who offer valuable programs and dynamic services.
Governor Highlights State's Progress in Pursuing UAS Test Site
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 29, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple today touted North Dakota's expertise in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) research, technology and applications and highlighted recent developments that have expanded the state's preparation for being selected a UAS Test Site by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Dalrymple addressed attendees during the 7th annual UAS Action Summit held at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
"North Dakota is a leader in UAS research and development, with the experience, programs and resources in place to not only receive the UAS test site designation, but to drive the growth of our nation's UAS industry," Dalrymple said. "The state stands ready to continue its support for developing a UAS test site in North Dakota and its investment in making North Dakota a hub for UAS advancements."
Earlier this week, Dalrymple signed an executive order establishing the Northern Plains UAS Authority, a six-member commission assembled to help advance North Dakota's UAS opportunities and to provide oversight of the state's selection as a FAA test site for integrating UAS into the national airspace. The authority will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and will include representatives from the state's general aviation industry, University of North Dakota Aerospace, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, North Dakota Department of Commerce (NDDOC), and the Office of the Adjutant General.
Dalrymple also announced this week the appointment of Col. Robert Becklund as director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. As director, he will lead all UAS-related activities within the test site and will be the primary point of contact for all communications with the FAA. Becklund previously served as commander of the North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Wing and served on the U.S. Air Force's Remotely Piloted Aircraft Task Force in Washington, D.C. The task force consists of a select group of unmanned aircraft experts assigned to assist Air Force and Department of Defense leadership in forming policy and making operational decisions regarding remotely piloted aircraft.
The Governor highlighted the $5 million in funding that he recommended in his executive budget and the 2013 Legislature passed to pursue and develop a national UAS test site in North Dakota. The appropriation includes $1 million to be used by the state to pursue the test site designation and $4 million that becomes available if the FAA selects North Dakota. The funding was included in Senate Bill 2018, the NDDOC budget bill that Dalrymple signed into law on May 9.
During his remarks, Dalrymple also recognized the members of the Airspace Integration Team, a team formed in September 2011 to oversee the development and submission of the state's application for designation as a UAS test site. The group consisted of representatives from state agencies, the North Dakota National Guard, general aviation, and private industry.
Dalrymple focused on the importance of North Dakota being named a UAS test site and how such a designation would impact Grand Forks and the state. He referenced Teal Group's 2012 market study that estimates that UAS spending will almost double over the next decade from current worldwide UAS expenditures of $6.6 billion annually to $11.4 billion, totaling over $80 billion in the next 10 years. He also cited the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's report that finds that in the first three years of UAS integration, more than 70,000 jobs will be created in the U.S. with an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion.
The FAA will designate six UAS test sites by Dec. 31 of this year. North Dakota has submitted all seven volumes of its proposal to the FAA, with the final volume submitted on May 3.
The two-day UAS Action Summit is sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, the Red River Valley Research Corridor, Northrop Grumman, and the City of Grand Forks. The event features the nation's leading industry, military and professional experts on UAS and showcases North Dakota as a hub for UAS advancements.
2 More Diesel Refineries Planned in North Dakota
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 27, 2013.Dakota Prairie Refinery's 3-year planning-to-completion timeline seems aggressive indeed, compared with the other two diesel-oriented refineries aimed at quenching the Bakken's 53,000-barrel-per-day thirst for diesel.
Dakota Oil Processing's Trenton Diesel Refinery was proposed seven years ago and received an air-quality permit from the North Dakota Department of Health in February 2012. In North Dakota, this permit is usually the final step required before construction can begin. The 20,000-barrel-a-day refinery is projected to produce 4,717 barrels a day of diesel. But Dakota Oil Processing has not completed financing for the $200 million project. Trenton is just east of the Montana border between Sidney and Williston, N.D.
Dakota Oil Processing approached the state Legislature in the session that ended early this month, in an attempt to get North Dakota to back bonds for its construction. But industry officials say once legislators saw the Calumet-MDU project get financed and off the ground so quickly, they backed off support for Dakota Oil's bonds.
Thunder Butte Petroleum Services Inc. broke ground early this month on its MHA Nation Clean Fuels Refinery, another 20,000-barrel-a-day crude-processing facility near Makoti, N.D., on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The $400 million project would be built in two phases. The first phase, to be started in August, would be a truck-to-rail crude-oil transloading facility that later would serve the refinery. Construction of the oil-processing facility could start next year, but Thunder Butte, a tribal company comprised of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, known as the MHA Nation, also has had difficulty finalizing financing. The Thunder Butte project first was proposed over a decade ago.
Because the Thunder Butte refinery is on an Indian reservation, permitting would be conducted through the federal Environmental Protection Agency. In Thunder Butte's case, an EPA honor system of sorts came into play. "There is no regulation for ‘true minor' sources in Indian Country to obtain an air permit," said Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, public affairs specialist at the EPA Region 8 office in Denver. "The information the tribe submitted indicated they considered themselves a ‘true minor' source for criteria pollutants. … Without a permit application, the (EPA) air program does not ‘approve or disapprove' construction."
Jim Semerad of the North Dakota Division of Air Quality said both the Dakota Prairie and Trenton Diesel refineries are considered "minor sources" of pollutants by North Dakota rules, so no hearings were required and, at least in Dakota Prairie's case, no comments were submitted to the division in regard to its permit. But the state does require - and issued - permits for both.
Dalrymple Signs Executive Order Creating Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authority
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 27, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed an executive order to establish the Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority. Dalrymple also announced the appointment of former 119th North Dakota Air National Guard Commander Col. Robert Becklund to serve as director of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site.
"Bob's extensive experience in Unmanned Systems and his leadership in the North Dakota Air National Guard will be great assets as we advance the development of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site," Dalrymple said. "By leveraging our resources and expertise at the University of North Dakota, the Grand Forks Air Force Base, the North Dakota Air National Guard and at our growing cluster of high-tech businesses that support our growing UAS industry, we have a great deal to offer in establishing a North Dakota test site."
Col. Robert Becklund served most recently in the North Dakota National Guard and has recently returned from duty on the United States Air Force's (USAF) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (USAF RPA) Task Force at the Pentagon. The USAF RPA Task Force consists of a select group of unmanned aircraft tactical and technical experts assigned to assist the USAF and Department of Defense leadership in forming policy and making acquisition and operational decisions related to the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities provided by Remotely Piloted Aircraft. As part of this duty, Col. Becklund participated in the Office of Secretary of Defense's Unmanned Aircraft Airspace Integration Process Team.
As the test site's director, Becklund will lead all UAS-related activities within the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. He will be the primary point of contact for all communications with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Dalrymple recommended and the Legislature has approved a total appropriation of $5 million to pursue and develop a national UAS test site in North Dakota. Of the funding package, $4 million in operational funding is contingent on FAA selection of a North Dakota test site.
In signing the executive order, Dalrymple established a six-member Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority. The authority is chaired by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley. Other members of the oversight authority represent North Dakota's general aviation industry, University of North Dakota Aerospace, the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the Office of the North Dakota Adjutant General.
Earlier this month the North Dakota Department of Commerce, with support from the North Dakota Airspace Integration Team, submitted an application to the FAA to become a test site for integrating UAS into the National Airspace. Six locations are projected to be chosen by year's end.
"I am very excited for the opportunity to contribute to North Dakota's efforts in shaping this revolutionary UAS technology that is defining a new era in aviation history," Becklund said. "North Dakota is already a national leader in manned and unmanned aviation and would be an incredible asset to the FAA if chosen as one of their UAS National Test Sites. I look forward to the challenges ahead as we work to assure the FAA that our selection as a UAS test site would be good for this nation."
Officials Say North Dakota Is Good Fit For Drones
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 27, 2013.North Dakota's uncongested airspace and tumultuous weather conditions make the state an ideal spot for a civilian drones test site, say officials who are leading the campaign to land the federal project.
The state recently committed $1 million in promotional costs and $4 million in operational costs in an effort to become one of six Federal Aviation Administration operations in the U.S. to test the unmanned aerial systems - in good weather and bad.
A state known for winter snowstorms and prairie winds can use that weather to its advantage, according to Brian Opp and Paul Lucy, two state Department of Commerce officials who are spearheading the project.
"The FAA wants to test these systems in diverse climates," Opp said. "They want to test it in crummy, cold, windy, snowy conditions and they also want to test it in pristine conditions."
Drones are already found in the state. The Grand Forks Air Force Base and North Dakota Air National Guard have transitioned from flying air refueling tankers and fighter jets to drones. And the University of North Dakota, long known for its aviation school, is the first college in the country to offer a degree program in unmanned systems.
"The state is positioned to be on the leading edge of an emerging and developing industry," Lucy said.
Those opposed to the use of domestic drones cite privacy concerns related to information-gathering and surveillance.
A law passed by Congress last year requires the Federal Aviation Administration to allow widespread drone flights in the U.S. by 2015, though the agency may not meet that deadline because of a lag in the development of safety regulations.
About 50 groups from 37 states submitted proposals to the FAA, which is expected to name the winners by the end of the year. Opp said the sites will be used to gather "boatloads of data" to help the FAA craft rules and regulations for civilian unmanned aircraft.
Although drones have been employed in military operations for several years, their application in the public sector is rather recent and is an untapped market estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
"These six test sites will be economic engines for the regions wherever they are placed," Opp said. "There's going to be a lot of pull to these sites."
Opp said two of the most common uses for the drones are in the agriculture and energy sector. The systems can help farmers manage their fields and oil workers maintain their pipelines with cheap and accurate monitoring in remote areas.
The test site proposal is among the agenda items at this week's seventh Unmanned Aircraft Systems Action Summit at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Featured speakers include Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, Gov. Jack Dalrymple and representatives from the Air Force and private industry.
Hoeven calls the state "a premier northern hub" for unmanned aircraft operations.
North Dakota Tourism Unveils New Website
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 23, 2013.Memorial Day weekend is the signature kick-off to the summer travel season, and North Dakota Tourism's new website NDTourism.com makes it easier for travelers, especially those on the go, to access information about the things to see and do in North Dakota.
Using two new technologies, responsive design and personalization technology, North Dakota Tourism's website is more user friendly for travelers. Responsive design technology ensures the website is compatible to all devices used to access it - be it desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone - and gives users on all devices access to the same content. The dynamic content technology displays website content that is more relevant to the end user and allows North Dakota Tourism the ability to deliver customized content based on user interest and location.
"Use of NDTourism.com on mobile devices has seen dramatic increases and now represents 22 percent of overall site use. Our new site was developed with this trend in mind," said Sara Otte Coleman, director of North Dakota Tourism. "North Dakota Tourism's website is the gateway to visitors traveling to and throughout North Dakota. Its features make it easier for travelers to access information when planning their trip on the computer or on the road with their mobile devices while experiencing North Dakota."
With these new enhancements, North Dakota Tourism staff anticipates an increase in requests for the Travel Guide and e-news sign-ups and the ability to deliver more referral traffic to industry partners.
The website features a fresh look and incorporates stunning photography that showcases North Dakota's diverse tourism offerings. Travelers can take advantage of the improved mapping feature to locate attractions and destinations.
The new website also has benefits for North Dakota Tourism's industry partners. Thanks to new website tools, partners can optimize information about their attraction or destination. Providing this capability to partners ensures all information is updated and current, something very important to travelers.
North Dakota Tourism's website can be found at www.NDtourism.com.
Travel & Leisure Magazine Editor to be Featured at Bloggers & Writers Workshop in Bismarck
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 22, 2013.The North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division will host the sixth annual workshop for bloggers and writers on June 6-7 at the National Energy Center of Excellence on the Bismarck State College campus.
Mark Orwoll, international editor for Travel & Leisure magazine, will be one of the keynote speakers for the event. Orwoll writes the monthly "Smart Traveler" column for the magazine, and contributes regularly to travelandleisure.com's "Carry On" blog.
Orwoll is a frequent guest on NBC's Today Show and other network news shows, and is the author of Teach Yourself e-Travel Today. His many other appearances on national and local TV include guest spots on ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning, PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and various programs on MSNBC, the Fox News Channel, National Public Radio, and other TV and radio outlets. He has been quoted as a travel expert in USA Today, Mediaweek, and the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, among other print media.
The workshop will also feature Sara Otte Coleman, Director of the North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division; Margie Goldsmith, a New York based freelance writer and travel blogger; and Marilyn Haggerty of the Grand Forks Herald.
Registration for the event is $50. Space is limited. A room block has been set aside at the Radisson Hotel at 701-255-6000. Request the Bloggers & Writers Workshop when calling to make reservations.
For additional information or to register visit: http://www.NDCommerce.com/writers.
North Dakota Iron Plant to Receive Minnesota Iron
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 21, 2013.A North Dakota company plans to build a $60 million iron-producing plant near Jamestown using iron ore concentrate from Minnesota.
A subsidiary of Bismarck-based Carbontec Energy Corp. called E-Nugget North Dakota LLC has unveiled plans to churn out 100,000 metric tons of iron annually using North Dakota sugar beet residue in the mix instead of coke coal.
The company hopes to break ground on the plant early in 2014 and be making iron nuggets by 2015, apparently using 160,000 tons of concentrate annually produced by Grand Rapids-based Magnetation.
The E-Nugget iron-making process was developed by Carbontec and Michigan Technological University over the past five years, including large-scale batch tests at a Minneapolis facility, John Simmons, president of Carbontec, told the News Tribune on Monday. The company already has plans to expand to a 300,000-ton plant if the startup goes well.
Simmons said the Jamestown site is well- situated because of easy access to sugar beet residue feedstock and also because it is adjacent to a Great River Energy power plant and directly on the BNSF rail line. He said the iron ore concentrate could move from the Grand Rapids area to North Dakota in rail cars that move western coal east but generally have been empty on their return trip west.
"We can get the right quality material from Grand Rapids, and the rail routes make sense," Simmons said.
The deal would give rapidly growing Magnetation yet another market for its recovered iron ore concentrate sifted out of waste dumps from old natural ore mines. Magnetation uses a patented recovery process to find tons of valuable iron ore at mines thought to be played out long ago.
Matt Lehtinen, president of Magnetation, told the News Tribune that he couldn't comment on the deal Monday. A press release is expected today.
Magnetation already employs about 220 people at three ore recovery facilities on the Iron Range, two of which, near Keewatin and Taconite, the company owns and which send concentrate to a Mexican steel mill. The third plant, near Chisholm, is minority-owned by and supplies the Mesabi Nugget iron nugget plant near Hoyt Lakes.
Magnetation expects to start construction on a fourth plant northwest of Coleraine this year. That plant will produce 2 million tons of concentrate annually and will be ready to feed a new Indiana pellet plant the company now is building to supply partner AK Steel with iron ore for its furnaces by 2015. That new Itasca County facility is expected to employ another 160 people. The Coleraine plant ultimately will shift to get its ore from traditional open pit mining. (The company has shelved plans to build a recovery plant at Calumet.)
Simmons noted Carbontec also created anE Nugget Minnesota LLC and considered building the plant in Minnesota using wood waste from logging sites as the reductant or binder. He said the company chose North Dakota instead, in part because it's so much easier to get permits in North Dakota.
The new North Dakota plant would be part of a growing trend in the industry to create iron in a form useable by electric-arc or mini-mill steelmakers. Mesabi Nugget near Hoyt Lakes already is making a similar product used to make steel by its parent company, Steel Dynamics. Essar Steel is planning to make taconite concentrate that can be used to make iron for mini-mills and is considering its own iron plant in Nashwauk. Cliffs Natural Resources also is considering transforming part of its NorthShore Mining operations to make concentrate for the directly reduced iron market, again aimed at electric arc furnaces instead of traditional blast furnaces.
Simmons said the new nuggets will be 96 percent pure iron and also very low sulfur content because no coal is used. He said the process will consume less energy and produce less pollution, including carbon dioxide emissions, than traditional iron-making processes.
"Our product will be very similar to Mesabi Nugget but not really in competition with them because they use all their own product," Simmons said.
He said the new company already has a buyer lined up to purchase the North Dakota iron nuggets, although he wouldn't name the buyer.
"Most of the iron made in the U.S. is used by the companies that make it. There isn't a lot of merchant market pig iron out there, and what there is is coming from Russia or Brazil or the Ukraine. That's where we'll come in."
The Jamestown plant will create about 40 jobs to start. The company said it also plans to sell waste gas from the process to use for energy.
Xcel Energy Proposing Power Plants in North Dakota
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 21, 2013.Xcel Energy is proposing two natural gas-fired power plants in southeastern North Dakota to help meet electricity needs during times of peak demand in the upper Midwest in coming years.
The plants would be built near Hankinson, about 70 miles south of Fargo, if they are approved by regulators. The proposed site is near both a natural gas pipeline and an electrical transmission line, according to The Forum newspaper. The plants would go into service in 2018 and 2019. Each would be capable of generating up to 215 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 130,000 homes.
Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy also has proposed a 215-megawatt natural gas-powered peaking plant near Minneapolis that would go into operation in 2017. The three plants are planned to meet a gradual increase in power demand in Xcel's service area, which includes Minnesota and the Dakotas.
If the two North Dakota plants are built, they would be the first power generation plants in North Dakota to be owned and operated by Xcel, which has 90,000 electricity customers in the state, mostly in the eastern cities of Fargo and Grand Forks.
Bobcat Company Breaks Ground on $20 Million Acceleration Center
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 12, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined public officials and Bobcat Company employees in breaking ground on the company's new Acceleration Center, a $20 million renovation and expansion project at the Northern Plains Commerce Centre (NPCC) in Bismarck. The Acceleration Center will be a high-tech facility for advancing innovation, and designing and testing products to keep Bobcat the leader in the compact equipment industry.
"Bobcat is synonymous with cutting-edge innovation and technology, a distinction that has helped solidify its position as a worldwide leader in the compact equipment industry," Dalrymple said. "The company's new Acceleration Center will provide a state-of-the-art facility for researching new ideas and developing and testing new products that will continue to keep Bobcat on the forefront of innovation, while creating jobs and economic opportunities for our state."
The project includes the expansion of an existing building, as well as the construction of a new test track and indoor testing facility, all located at the NPCC. The expansion will include a two-story office building and provide a total of 160,000 square feet of modern workspace. Additionally, a 35,000-square-foot indoor testing arena will be constructed next to a 22-acre outdoor testing and track area. Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2014.
The Acceleration Center will initially house 135 employees, including research and development teams, prototype and design engineers, and manufacturing technicians. They will be tasked with innovating and advancing designs, testing, prototype engineering, and the computer simulation of ideas and concepts. Bobcat has 225 salaried and 400 hourly employees at its Bismarck locations.
The $20 million in new construction, land and technology investments brings Bobcat Company's total investment in the NPCC, including its original building, to $35 million. The company is based in West Fargo, with manufacturing facilities in Bismarck, Gwinner and Wahpeton. With the completion of the new Acceleration Center, Bobcat will have three locations in Bismarck.
Governor Signs $250 Million in Tax Relief
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 06, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple applauded the $250 million in income tax relief he signed into law as important legislation that directly benefits North Dakotans who have worked hard to help create our vibrant economy.
"North Dakota's strong economy did not happen overnight. The people and businesses of our state have been working hard for many years to innovate, to build and to create opportunities," Gov. Dalrymple said. "At the same time, the state has worked hard to position itself as a friendly business environment, where hard-working individuals can thrive. This $250 million in income tax relief helps continue those efforts, creating an even brighter future for North Dakota."
Dalrymple highlighted the tax relief in Senate Bill 2156 while speaking at the Fargo-Moorhead West Fargo Chamber's legislative wrap up event in Fargo today.
Senate Bill 2156 overwhelmingly passed both the House and the Senate providing $200 million in personal income tax relief and $50 million in corporate tax relief. This represents a 20 percent and 12 percent tax cut, respectively. Combined, these reductions in income tax send unprecedented relief directly back to taxpayers.
The total tax relief package passed in the 2013-15 legislative session, including income, property and homestead tax relief, reached more than $1.1 billion.
Property tax relief totaled $850 million this legislative session, including $656 million provided through a new K-12 school funding formula that shifts the largest share of education costs from school districts to the state.
The homestead tax credit, which applies to senior citizens who live on fixed incomes, was more than doubled from $8.8 million to $20 million. The Legislature raised the maximum income limit and the maximum asset limit, including the value of taxpayers' homes, making more North Dakotans eligible for this property tax reduction.
Dalrymple also signed into law an expansion of the homestead tax credit for disabled veterans. The change expands the tax credit program for disabled veterans from $4.2 million to $7.7 million, an 83 percent increase.
Since 2009, Dalrymple has worked with legislators to reduce taxes by nearly $2.4 billion.
New North Dakota Tourism Program Encourages & Rewards Bikers' Exploration of Scenic Byways
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 05, 2013.North Dakota Tourism has launched the North Dakota Scenic ByRider Program to reward bikers who tour the state's scenic byways and backways. Riders traveling five of the 10 scenic byways or backways in the state in one calendar year will receive a patch indicating they are a North Dakota Scenic ByRider.
"One of the best ways to experience the sights, sounds and smells of North Dakota is to tour on two wheels," Scooter Pursley with North Dakota Tourism said. "North Dakota's 10 scenic byways and backways provide sensory overload for bikers looking for a thrilling afternoon run or a relaxing evening ride with friends. Quaint towns, unique dining spots and great scenery await along these state-designated routes."
To verify they were on the route, bikers need to take a photo of themselves holding a copy of the current North Dakota Travel Guide in front of their bike and a recognizable scenic area, attraction, accommodation or event on that byway.
Once bikers have photos taken along five different byways or backways, they can email them to Scooter Pursley at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Pursley at North Dakota Tourism Division, 1600 E Century AVE, PO Box 2057, Bismarck ND 58502. Bikers will receive a patch for their vest or jacket, verifying them as a North Dakota Scenic Byrider. Those riding two-up will receive patches for each rider.
North Dakota Tourism Week Celebrates Travel's Positive Effects on Economy, Communities and Lives
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on May 02, 2013.The travel and tourism industry is good for the economy. It fuels jobs, drives spending and has a major impact on the economy of destinations like North Dakota. In addition, studies by the U.S. Travel Association showcase the importance of travel for relationships and businesses.
May 4-12 is the 30th annual National Travel and Tourism Week, and this year's theme, "Travel Effects," showcases the powerful benefits travel has on our lives, businesses and economy.
To kick off travel season in North Dakota, Gov. Jack Dalrymple has declared this week "North Dakota Tourism Week."
"Tourism is one of North Dakota's leading industries and an important part of our growing economy," Dalrymple said. "Tourism Week is a great opportunity to recognize the state's travel and tourism industry for its important contributions and to showcase North Dakota's legendary attractions, destinations and events for visitors and residents alike."
"Travel is good for the economy and the soul," said North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division Director Sara Otte Coleman. "All North Dakota communities - large and small - benefit from tourism. It supports businesses and puts people to work. Specifically, one out of 12 jobs in the state is tied to tourism. Furthermore, travel is a time when people break away from the stress of their daily lives and reconnect with their families and create life-long memories."
North Dakota Tourism's Legendary advertising campaign, now in its 11th year, continues to be successful. According to recent research conducted by Longwoods International, each dollar spent in paid media in 2012 brought in $119 in visitor spending.
Video series kicks off during North Dakota Tourism Week
North Dakota Tourism Week is the launching point for an ongoing video series by North Dakota Tourism that will promote the state's legendary things to see and do. Gov. Jack and First Lady Betsy Dalrymple set the series in motion by appearing in the first video, debuting Saturday, May 4, on the Travel North Dakota Facebook page.
In the video, the First Couple challenges Facebook fans to test their knowledge of North Dakota's great places featured in the video. Participants are asked to post their answers on the Travel North Dakota Facebook page for a chance to win Legendary gear. The names of the destinations and attractions, and the winners will be revealed Friday, May 10.
Facts about North Dakota's Tourism Industry:
• Travel and tourism is a $4.8 billion industry in North Dakota. (NDSU)
• North Dakota's tourism industry continues to lead the nation in growth and is growing faster than the national average. (U.S. Travel Association)
• 17.2 million people visited North Dakota in 2011. (IHS)
• North Dakota travel generated $571 million in taxes. (IHS)
• Without tourism, each North Dakota household would pay an additional $943 in taxes. (IHS)
• Advertising North Dakota is a 1:9 return to the state's tax base. (Longwoods)
• One out of every 12 North Dakota workers owes their job to tourism. (IHS)
• Leisure travel continues to be the largest travel segment. (IHS)
• 60% of visitors are non-resident travelers. (IHS)
• Approximately $943 million in wages and salaries are generated through North Dakota tourism. (IHS)
Family vacations: worth every penny
Source: U.S. Travel Association's Family Vacation Survey
• Roughly nine out of 10 kids polled for this survey report that some of their best memories are from family vacations.
• More than three-fourths say that their family talks about what they did on vacation all year.
• More than 90 percent say that memorable things happen on vacations.
• Going on a family vacation, kids say, ranks higher than all other activities in their minds. More than 90 percent of kids ages 8-18 see family travel as a chance to spend quality time with their parents.
• Three-quarters (75 percent) of parents believe that family vacations are worth the time and money because they "give my child experiences that they will remember years down the road."
• Half of parents believe family vacations are worth the investment because "vacations are the highlight of everyone's year" and nearly seven in 10 parents say "it's enjoyable to remember this time together when I get busy with daily life."
• With busy family schedules crammed full of activities, a solid majority of parents (53 percent) reported that "family vacations are one of the few things that families do together."
• Vacationers older than 55 agreed that they still have vivid memories of childhood vacations.
To see a calendar of events and learn about all there is to experience in North Dakota, request a copy of the North Dakota Travel Guide by calling 800-435-5663 or view the digital Travel Guide at NDtourism.com.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce report ranks North Dakota Nation's Top Economic Growth Performer
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 30, 2013.A report released this week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has identified North Dakota as the nation's top growth performer. The report, titled "Enterprising States: Getting Down to Small Business," is an in-depth look at the free enterprise policies that are being implemented to promote economic growth at state and local levels.
The study states that, "With booming job growth, surging incomes and a rising population, North Dakota's economic miracle shows few signs of ending. The report illustrates that the state ranks in the top-half of all six categories in this year's report, notably placing 1st in economic performance and 13th for talent pipeline.
"This study shows that North Dakota ranks first in job growth in the high-paying fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); first in legal environment; second in college affordability, and third in educational attainment among its young workforce," Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson says. "This report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is another confirmation that our strategies to further develop and diversify our economy are paying off."
The study was prepared by Praxis Strategy Group and Joel Kotkin. Praxis Strategy Group is an economic research and community strategy company that works with leaders and innovators in business, education, and government to create new economic opportunities. Kotkin is an internationally recognized authority on global, economic, political, and social trends.
The complete report is available at: http://foundation.uschamber.com/PDF/ES2013.pdf.
North Dakota's Outdoor Opportunities Garner Increased Interest at Regional Sports Shows
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 23, 2013.Outdoor enthusiasts in the region have a growing interest in North Dakota's bountiful outdoor adventures, specifically hunting and fishing. Mike Jensen, outdoor promotions manager with North Dakota Tourism, recently promoted the state at six travel and sports shows across the Midwest.
More than 6,000 people visited the North Dakota Tourism booth during the sports show season, an increase of 14.5 percent from 2012.
North Dakota Tourism promoted the state with a booth at St. Cloud Sports Show, St. Cloud, Minn.; National Pheasant Fest and the Northwest Sport Show, both in Minneapolis, Minn.; Omaha Boat Sports and Travel Show, Omaha, Neb.; Sioux Falls Sportsmen's Show, Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sport Show Milwaukee, Wis.
"People from across the Midwest were very excited about North Dakota's abundant outdoor opportunities," Jensen said. "Sports show attendees were very interested in hunting ducks and pheasants, camping, hiking, visiting parks and family attractions, and fishing our waters. Based upon booth traffic and the interest in North Dakota at the sports show, this year's travel season for outdoor tourism should be strong."
Workforce Leadership Team to Hold Career EDventure
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 21, 2013.The North Dakota Workforce Leadership Team, in conjunction with Bismarck Public Schools and the Missouri River Education Cooperative-Succeed 2020, will be holding a Career EDventure at the Bismarck Civic Center Exhibit Hall on May 8.
The event will work to engage high school students with North Dakota career opportunities. Career EDventure is the kickoff to the annual industry awareness week.
The event is also designed to:
• Foster stronger relationships between business and education.
• Work cooperatively with parents to guide their children's career goals.
"Over the course of this half-day event, approximately 50 exhibits will be available to provide interactive experiences to students on a wide range of industries," Wayde Sick with the North Dakota Department of Commerce said. "The event will also offer a number of breakout sessions focused on specific high-demand industries in the state."
Representatives from Great River Energy, Bobcat Machinery, Cavendish Farms, North Dakota Information Technology Department and the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Tourism Division will be in attendance.
The North Dakota Workforce Leadership Team consists of representatives from North Dakota Career and Technical Education, North Dakota Department of Commerce, North Dakota Department of Human Services, Job Service North Dakota, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and North Dakota University System.
Registration is free for students. For additional information or to register, please contact Wayde Sick at 701-328-7264 or go to www.NDCommerce.com.
Tourism leaders honored with Governor's Travel and Tourism Awards
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 17, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple and North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division Director Sara Otte Coleman today announced this year's recipients of the Governor's Travel and Tourism Awards. Nine outstanding leaders in North Dakota's tourism industry were recognized at the 2013 North Dakota Travel Conference in Grand Forks.
"As one of North Dakota's largest industries, tourism is an important contributor to our growing economy," Gov. Dalrymple said. "These leaders represent the outstanding work that is going on in communities across our state to promote North Dakota's legendary tourism offerings and to continue to make the state's tourism industry one of the fastest growing in the nation. Congratulations to this year's award recipients, and thank you for all you do for North Dakota."
Awards were given to:
Old Red Old Ten Scenic Byway, Tourism Organization of the Year. In 2012, volunteers from Morton and Stark Counties joined forces to create the Old Red Old Ten Scenic Byway Committee. Together, they created and launched a multi-faceted tourism project that has had a positive impact on towns along the Old Red Old Ten Scenic Byway. The ambitious project included a marketing plan and self-guided tour along the scenic byway to attract visitors to the communities of Mandan, Almont, New Salem, Glen Ullin, Hebron, Richardton, Taylor, Gladstone and Dickinson. The initiatives by this all-volunteer-committee have motivated visitors from all over the U.S. to get off the Interstate and visit these rural North Dakota communities, thereby increasing customers at local businesses.
Troy White, Bonanzaville, West Fargo, Travel and Tourism Industry Leader. When White became Bonanzaville's executive director in the fall of 2011, he immediately tackled Bonanzaville's pre-existing challenges, including lack of funding and public support. During his short time at Bonanzaville, White has transformed this West Fargo attraction from a struggling non-profit to a successful tourist attraction.
White implemented financial strategies and marketing strategies that stabilized Bonanzaville by addressing short-term problems and developing long-term solutions. He assembled a coalition of banks to provide funding for a USDA Rural Development backed loan to resume construction of the $1.6 million Lucien C. Barnes Pavilion and Events Center. White also increased revenue by utilizing current assets, including turning the second floor of the Pavilion into a 4,000-square-foot, revenue-generating events center and creating an adopt-a-building program.
Bonanzaville launched aggressive public relations and rebranding campaigns that helped generate awareness and regain public support. As a result, Bonanzaville has had record attendance at its annual events and raised more than $200,000 in a five-week fundraising campaign. Other successes include enhancements to aging infrastructure, the addition of the Arthur Town Hall, and the opening of the Cass County Museum.
Jayne Rieth, Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Front-Line Employee. Rieth has been a travel ambassador at the Fargo-Moorhead CVB for six years and embodies what it takes to create an "Always Warm" experience for visitors. She has an innate quality to discern the level of interaction visitors desire, whether it's a quick hello or lengthy chat. Selling North Dakota to visitors is important to Rieth, and she's made it a priority to tour the state, experiencing North Dakota's travel and tourism offerings first-hand. In addition, she's embraced training new travel ambassadors, including college students, by sharing her passion for North Dakota and customer service.
Pembina State Museum, Pembina, International Tourism Award. While located in North Dakota, the Pembina State Museum, just one mile from the Canadian border, showcases a history that is blurred between the U.S. and Canada. The history of the northern Red River Valley is really a history of Canada before the U.S. existed. As a result, many Canadians from Emerson, Gretna and other Canadian communities bring their friends and relatives to the Pembina State Museum to show off "their" museum.
The Pembina State Museum will serve as the trail head and information center on the U.S. side of the Trans-Canada Pembina Trail Loop, which is an offshoot of the Trans-Canada Trail. This project is being coordinated by the City of Emerson, Manitoba; the Pembina County Commission; and the State Historical Society of North Dakota - Pembina State Museum. Once completed, it will be the only overland place the trail crosses at the international border. The trail will be open to hiking, biking and ATV use. Another collaborative project with Canada includes an annual remembrance ceremony for Legion Posts and Canadian equivalents.
Daniel Rodriguez, AALTOS Garden Café, Canad Inns, Behind the Scenes Tourism Employee. Employed as the kitchen steward at AALTOS Garden Café since 2010, Rodriquez's skills and efforts have been instrumental in serving tens of thousands of meals to tourists and guests of Grand Forks. Time and again, Rodriguez goes above and beyond to make sure guests receive top-notch care and attention. He has a team approach, a great attitude and works until the job is done.
The Red River Zoo, Fargo, Attraction of the Year. The Red River Zoo demonstrates exemplary dedication to providing an educating and entertaining tourist destination. Since its opening in 1999, the Zoo has been self-funded, which is a rarity in this industry, as only seven percent of Association of Zoos and Aquariums-certified U.S. zoos are 100% self-funded. Each year, more than 70,000 visitors make their way through the Zoo's doors. Of this amount, 64% are tourists, clearly denoting the Red River Zoo's status as a tourist destination.
2012 was a year of record accomplishments on a limited budget. Thanks to a comprehensive strategic marketing plan, including aggressive social media efforts, 2012 was a growth year. Last year, the Zoo's attendance jumped to 90,000, an increase of more than 17,000 visitors. Other 2012 highlights include the completion of the Naped Crane and camel exhibits, renovation of the Pallas cat exhibit and completion of the Asian Garden. For 2013, visitors can look forward to seeing the completed $500,000 Otter Rapids Exhibit.
Big Iron Farm Show, West Fargo, Event of the Year. In 1980, a farm equipment show took root in Casselton with the idea of showcasing the latest in "Big Iron." One year later, with a successful inaugural event behind them, Big Iron organizers moved the event to the spacious Red River Valley Fairgrounds. Since then, the event has grown each year from a farm equipment show to an annual three-day celebration of rural living, agribusiness, health, innovation and technology.
The Big Iron Farm Show is the must-see agricultural exhibition for farm operators who are interested in the latest technologies for large-scale agriculture production. In 2012, more than 75,000 attendees came from across the nation and several countries to see demonstrations, visit 800-plus exhibitors, connect with their peers and attend training sessions. In 2007, the North Dakota Trade Office began hosting international buyers during the Big Iron Farm Show. Since the inception of the Big Iron International Visitors Program, the event has hosted more than 600 international visitors from more than 25 countries.
The Big Iron Farm Show is a subsidiary of the Red River Valley Fair Association, and is planned and organized by staff and a volunteer committee of six individuals involved in various aspects of agribusiness, ranging from farming, ranching, sales, banking and manufacturing.
Julie Rygg, Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Wade Westin Award for Marketing. Rygg, the executive director of the Grand Forks CVB, has leveraged the Internet and social media to increase awareness of and attract visitors to the Greater Grand Forks area. Under her vision, the CVB's website, VisitGrandForks.com, was revised and enhanced with features like the event planner tool and hotel accommodations finder, all of which have created a better user experience. Website stats demonstrate these changes were well received by visitors. Just six months after the launch of the new website, stats showed increased traffic, longer visits to the website and more page views, just to name a few. In 2009, the Greater Grand Forks CVB was one of the first CVBs in North Dakota to launch a mobile website. Rygg also was one of the earliest adopters of social media in North Dakota's travel and tourism industry. In 2007, the CVB started its efforts with a blog, and has since expanded its social media presence to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Medora Package, in the Best Package category. The Medora Package combines two of the best summer dining and entertainment options in western North Dakota. Kick off the evening at the Pitchfork Fondue and savor steak cooked cowboy style. Afterward, spend the evening under the North Dakota stars by enjoying the Medora Musical. This package for two people also includes a discount on lodging.
In North Dakota, a Burst of Energy
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 15, 2013.The oil boom in North Dakota is spurring the first full-fledged refineries to be built from scratch in the U.S. in more than three decades.
MDU Resources Group Inc. MDU +0.71% and Calumet Specialty Products Partners LP CLMT +2.46% broke ground last month on a 20,000-barrel-a-day refinery that can produce a variety of products, from diesel fuel to kerosene. The plant, 100 miles west of Bismarck, N.D., would be the first new refinery of its kind built in the U.S. since 1976, according to federal data.
See full story on Wall Street Journal Site.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple used a bulldozer last month to help break ground for a 20,000-barrel-a-day refinery near Dickinson, N.D.
At least three other refineries of similar size are moving off the drawing boards, according to people involved in the projects.
Although small compared with the giant refineries that line the U.S. Gulf Coast and can process hundreds of thousands of barrels a day, the projects in North Dakota are the latest sign of how the refining industry is being revitalized by the surge in oil production there.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects North Dakota oil production to reach 1.1 million barrels a day in 2014, up from 770,000 barrels a day in December. But because there are few pipelines to carry the oil to major refineries, prices for the crude produced there have been depressed.
After its expected 2014 completion, the Dakota Prairie refinery plans to sell most of its fuel to farmers to power their equipment, but a sizable volume will fuel oil field machinery, said Rick Matteson, a spokesman for MDU Resources, an energy-services company based in Bismarck.
"We think there's a good market here," Mr. Matteson said.
Nationally, high costs, environmental concerns and tepid demand for fuel led U.S. refiners for decades to focus on expanding their existing operations instead of building new refineries. Marathon Oil Corp. MRO +0.90% was the last to build a complex refinery-which distills crude into all sorts of products, including gasoline and specialty chemicals-when its plant in Garyville, La., opened in 1977.
The refining business has heated up in the past year, however, as the surge in U.S. oil output and transportation bottlenecks have led to falling prices for domestic crude in some parts of the country. Profits at Valero Energy Corp., VLO +1.61%Chevron Corp. CVX +0.25% and other refiners have strengthened considerably in the past few quarters.
North Dakota's Three Affiliated Tribes plan to start construction in May on a 20,000 barrel-a-day refinery, which like the Dakota Prairie project will be near Dickinson, N.D. Dakota Oil Processing LLC is planning a similar-size $200 million refinery in Trenton, N.D., near the Bakken Shale, a rock formation rich in crude oil in the northwest part of the state. Another group of investors are in advanced stages of financing negotiations for a fourth refinery of similar size in the state, said a person with involved in the project, which hasn't yet been formally announced.
North Dakota's refining renaissance is partly explained by the fact that for years the state was a sleepy fuel market served by one refinery: Tesoro Corp.'s TSO +3.59% 60,000-barrel-a-day facility in Mandan, which was built in 1954.
But the Bakken-driven economic boom means that the state now has to obtain more than half of the 51,831 barrels of diesel and kerosene it consumes each day from neighboring states. The North Dakota Petroleum Council expects the state's hunger for diesel to grow by an additional 22,000 barrels a day by 2025.
"These small refineries are quickly built, they're cheap and the demand for fuel in the market is high," said Morningstar analyst Allen Good.
"Any refinery in that region is just going to clean up," he added.
ND Legacy Fund Nears $1 Billion
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 08, 2013.North Dakota's oil tax fund is nearing $1 billion dollars in assets.
The Legacy Fund gets 30-percent of the state's oil tax collections. None of the money can be spent until 2017, and even then, it takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to dip into it.
March deposits were about $87 million. That brings the fund's total to $927 million. Oil revenue was first put into the fund in September of 2011.
The Fund's 7-member advisory board is recommending half of the fund's assets be shifted to the stock market, and other investments
Department of Commerce Reports Job Growth
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 04, 2013.The North Dakota Department of Commerce today announced that North Dakota has created 102,100 new jobs since 2000.
In 2012, North Dakota had an average annual employment level of 429,800, an increase of 102,100 from 2000 when the state had 327,700 workers. This represents an increase of 31.2 percent. North Dakota added 33,000 new net jobs in 2012.
"Together with local developers and forward-thinking private sector participants, the North Dakota Department of Commerce can show that our efforts are indeed facilitating growth," Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said. "We have added over 70,000 new jobs in the past five years and as we continue to focus on greater economic diversification, we will see even more jobs created. These figures are evidence that our plan for economic growth is working and providing more jobs and opportunities for North Dakota families."
The full Job Service North Dakota Labor Market Information Center report is available at http://www.ndworkforceintelligence.com.
Innovate ND 2013 Boot Camp Series Continues
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 03, 2013.- Innovate ND is hosting a series of "Boot Camps" across the state of North Dakota. The entrepreneurial journey continues April 13 in Bismarck at Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence in room 335 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The April 13 boot camp will feature an "elevator pitch" competition awarding a $500 cash prize to one winner chosen by a panel of judges. The boot camp will focus on "Perfecting Your Venture's Voice: Mastering the Investor Presentation and Raising Money for Your Business." This boot camp will explain how to develop and pitch the story of a new venture to potential investors, stakeholders and key employees.
The Innovate ND boot camp and the elevator pitch competition are open to anyone interested in learning about developing a business concept. Registration for the boot camp is free for Innovate ND participants. Non-participants may attend the boot camp for $99. Discounts are available for individuals who attend all events. If a boot camp participant decides to sign up for Innovate ND, all boot camp fees will apply to their $250 Innovate ND registration.
"By attending the Innovate ND boot camp, I am better equipped to be a sound critic of my own ideas and get the support I need to take action," past boot camp participant Denise Peterson of Heritage Homes Parties in West Fargo said. "It is a great opportunity to venture beyond my comfort zone and take the steps I need to move ahead. The experience, knowledge, training and support are invaluable to making my venture successful."
Dr. Jeff Stamp, UND Entrepreneur-in-Residence, is facilitating the boot camp series.
Dr. Stamp is a long-time entrepreneur. In his early corporate life he was the developer and section manager of the initial brand and product development team of "Baked Lays," for PepsiCo's snack division Frito-Lay. His own private entrepreneurial ventures include Bold Thinking, LLC, an entrepreneurial education company, and eight other start-ups.
North Dakota's Personal Income Growth Continue to Outpace All Other States
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 03, 2013.For the fifth time in the last six years, North Dakota has the strongest personal income growth among all states, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has reported.
North Dakota's average per capita personal income increased to $51,893 last year, more than doubling since 2000 when the state's personal income averaged $25,592, the BEA reports.
"These latest statistics help confirm that our efforts to create jobs and to sustain a positive business climate are getting results," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. "It's very encouraging that our income growth stems from nearly every business sector and that no single industry tells the whole story of the great progress we continue to make."
North Dakota's annual per capita personal income increased 12.4 percent last year while the national average slowed from 5.2 percent growth in 2011 to last year's growth of 3.5 percent. North Dakota's per capita personal income is the 6th highest overall and about 122 percent of the national average, according to BEA statistics.
Since 2006, personal income in North Dakota has grown at a compound annual rate of 9.2 percent, substantially outpacing the 2.9 percent growth rate of all other states.
The BEA report shows that North Dakota's income growth is tied to many business sectors including agriculture, construction, energy development, manufacturing, retail trade and information technology.
The complete BEA report is available at www.bea.gov.
Oppidan Invests Further in Oil-Rich ND
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Apr 03, 2013.Minnetonka-based Oppidan Investment Company, a national property development firm, is increasing its focus on North Dakota's oil-rich Bakken region by opening an office in Watford City.
Oppidan's office will occupy 2,500 square feet in the 120,000-square-foot Watford Plaza, a commercial development that the firm is in the process of developing. Oppidan will join fellow tenants Cash Wise Foods, Alco, Happy Rice Buffett, and Red Wing Shoes.
"In the past year, Oppidan has invested more than $150 million to develop a wide range of retail and residential properties throughout the Bakken region," President Joe Ryan said in a statement. "As such, we feel it's important to have a more permanent footprint of our own there, to both demonstrate our commitment to the region and to appropriately manage our efforts."
Oppidan has led significant developments in centrally located Watford City. In addition to the Watford Plaza, it began construction on the Pheasant Ridge Apartments in October, a 42-unit apartment complex housed in the city.
Additionally, Oppidan donated $10,000 to the Watford City Chamber of Commerce to help fund development of the Wolf Pup Daycare Center, a child-care facility that would serve up to 200 children in the Wolf Run Village community, according to Real Estate Journal. Mayor Brent Sanford reportedly said that Oppidan has become a "key community player in Watford City's continued growth."
Read the story on the Twin City Business site.
Oppidan has also made large investments in Minot, North Dakota, also in the Bakken region. In September, it began construction on the 180,000-square-foot Southgate retail center. Slated to open in August, the Southgate center will feature Gordmans, Cash Wise Foods, Petco, and Shoe Carnival. In October, Oppidan purchased 10 acres of land for a 95,000-square-foot retail development site, also in Minot.
Oppidan has a number of additional real estate interests throughout the Bakken region, including planned or completed residential and commercial developments in Dickinson, Stanley, Tioga, and Williston.
Dubbed "The Luckiest Place on Earth" by the New York Times, the Bakken region consists of 200,000 square miles across 12 counties in North Dakota and parts of Montana and Saskatchewan, Canada. The region is in the midst of major economic development as a result of its oil boom that began seven years ago. Since the start of the boom, North Dakota has gone from the ninth-ranked oil-producing state to the second, behind only Texas.
North Dakota currently has the lowest unemployment rate and the highest rate of population growth in the United States, due largely to the prosperous Bakken region.
According to a memo from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, employment levels in the region have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009, while levels in the rest of North Dakota have remained flat. As of January 2013, the unemployment rate in the Bakken region was 1.7 percent. And in the third quarter of 2012, the weekly wages in its counties increased 17 percent from the previous year, reaching $1,217, compared to $776 in the rest of North Dakota.
Commerce Provides $300,000 Grant for Dickinson Housing Project
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Mar 25, 2013.Governor Jack Dalrymple has committed $300,000 in grant funds to help the city of Dickinson develop additional affordable housing for senior residents.
The Community Development Block Grant funds will be used to purchase land for the Beyond Shelter, Inc./Heritage Hills housing project. The project will be developed in two phases and when completed, will provide 81 new affordable senior rental units in Dickinson.
"This affordable housing project is very important to seniors living in western North Dakota," said Dan Madler, Chief Operating Officer of Beyond Shelter. "We anticipate that nearly 100 seniors from the region would directly benefit from this project. The Community Development Block Grant Program has been an important tool for us to help address the need for affordable housing."
The units will be designed for residents 55 years of age and older, who earn 60 percent or less of the area median income.
Beyond Shelter, Inc. has a track record of putting over 500 new affordable units in-service. The organization works with multiple partners in communities in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota to help develop workforce, senior, and special needs housing.
APUC works to boost businesses
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 25, 2013.By JESSICA HOLDMAN | Bismarck Tribune The state spends up to $3 million per year on project ideas that add value to North Dakota agricultural products. Of the 30 to 40 projects that receive grants, about 50 percent become successful business ventures, like Ole Johnson’s compost business in Stanton. Johnson said he has been composting [...]
Bill passes allowing direct sales by wineries
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 20, 2013.By JESSICA HOLDMAN | Bismarck Tribune A bill allowing North Dakota wineries to sell direct to bars and restaurants will go to the governor. The state Senate passed HB1077 by a vote of 46-1 Tuesday. The legislation states a licensed winery that produces no more than 50,000 gallons of wine per year may sell and [...]
Innovate ND Winner Lift'N Buddy Sells Idea to National Company
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Mar 19, 2013.Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson today congratulated Fargo-resident Aaron Lamb, inventor of Lift'n Buddy, on the recent sale of his idea to Southworth International Group, the world's largest manufacturer of ergonomic material handling equipment.
Lift'n Buddy is a mobile lifting device that combines the best of a standard hand-truck's durability and functionality, with automatic lifting and lowering capabilities.
"North Dakota's future growth depends to a large degree on our ability to grow businesses and our economy from within," Anderson said. "Lift'n Buddy is a great model for entrepreneurs who have a promising business idea and the desire to build that venture right here in our state."
Lift'n Buddy, a 2011 Innovate winner, was the recipient of the 2012 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards for Technology Design and 2012 Gold Edison Award. The mobile lifting device is currently being used in companies across the U.S., including a number of U.S. government entities, retail handling companies and pharmaceutical companies among others.
"I am extremely pleased that I was able to make good use of North Dakota state resources in growing my venture here," Lamb, General Manager of Lift'n Buddy said. "The state of North Dakota was our angel fund and provided us the opportunity to launch our product. I have a tremendous sense of accomplishment that Lift'n Buddy was acquired by a global company with the same mission and vision as mine."
"Our team has not only been impressed by the accomplishments of the Lift'n Buddy team but we have also admired the incubation environment in North Dakota that has allowed them to develop their idea," Brian McNamara, CEO of Southworth International Group, said. "We look forward to our future in North Dakota."
Southworth is the world's largest manufacturer of ergonomic materials handling equipment for vertical lifting and work positioning, designed to improve worker productivity while reducing the potential for worker injuries.
Lift 'n Buddy collaborated with the Agricultural Products Utilization Commission on development of the product and also utilized a technology-based entrepreneurship grant through the North Dakota Department of Commerce.
Lift 'n Buddy was developed at the NDSU Research and Technology Park and Technology Incubator in Fargo. To operate within the park or Technology Incubator, a company must be involved in the advancement and development of new technology, be willing to establish a working relationship with NDSU and work in one or more of the following technology fields: material sciences, biosciences and life science technology, information technology, nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing and sensors/micro-electronics.
From manufacturing to energy, tourism to agriculture, businesses in a wide range of industries are finding success in North Dakota. To learn more about Lift 'n Buddy and how North Dakota is doing business better visit: http://www.business.nd.gov/news/success-stories/
Veterinarians: Jobs available but debts to pay
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 17, 2013.By Jessica Holdman Angie Bettenhausen puts her stethoscope to the chest of a 13-year-old asthmatic Pomeranian named Ariyana. The dog had been coughing and wheezing. “I don’t hear any crackling,” she told concerned owner Jim Hill. Bettenhausen, who graduated from Iowa State in 2009, has been a small animal veterinarian at Pinehurst Veterinary Hospital in Bismarck [...]
Bismarck architects considering 3-D printing technology
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 15, 2013.It takes Ubl Design Group several weeks to make display models of buildings. With a 3-D printer they could do it in a day. Some local architects are considering using 3-D printed models as a new way to showcase designs to clients. The printers have made it possible to make functional 3-D objects — from [...]
Dalrymple, Microsoft Partner in Statewide Digital Alliance
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Mar 13, 2013.First-Ever Statewide Partnership, Part of Microsoft's YouthSpark Initiative, to Bring Technology Training and Resources to North Dakota Youth
The state of North Dakota and Microsoft are forming a statewide Digital Alliance, the first of its kind in the country. The public-private alliance will begin by bringing Microsoft training and resources to North Dakotans in kindergarten through graduate school to increase skills in three main areas: education, employability and entrepreneurship, focusing specifically on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
"In North Dakota, we are creating our future," said Governor Jack Dalrymple. "By advancing literacy and career readiness North Dakotans can take greater advantage of the growing opportunities our state now has to offer. This Digital Alliance will open doors for personal growth and support greater development and entrepreneurship. Microsoft's story in North Dakota is an example of such entrepreneurship, and this alliance connects the resources and the brain power in our workforce in order to build up the next generation for the careers of the future."
Representatives from the state and from Microsoft will actively participate in the Digital Alliance, ensuring that Microsoft technology, training, and resources reach North Dakotans and strengthen skills. Some of the programs within the Digital Alliance include:
- DigiGirlz, which teaches high school girls about careers in technology and provides hands-on computer and technology workshops.
- IT Academy, an online certification program to help students learn IT skills and be awarded industry-recognized credentials that are helpful in gaining employment in STEM-related fields.
- Dream Spark, which offers students professional level developer and design tools to help them begin building technology solutions, will be accessible to North Dakota students at no cost.
The Digital Alliance and associated programs are part of Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative, designed to create millions of opportunities for young people in the United States over the next three years.
The Digital Alliance is an initial three-year commitment projected to impact North Dakotans in every corner of the state. Implementation of the alliance has already begun and will continue more aggressively over this three year period. Programs will be made available in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, adult learning centers, job service centers, and local libraries among others.
Don Morton, site leader, Microsoft Corporation, said, "Through this Digital Alliance, the state of North Dakota and Microsoft will together accelerate and enhance the strong programs already initiated by the Department of Commerce, K-12, and the North Dakota University System. In our state and around the globe people are facing an opportunity divide between those who have access to technology and those who do not. Together we will identify synergies between Microsoft technology and statewide entrepreneurial and STEM initiatives. As we move forward with this Digital Alliance, Microsoft programs such as YouthSpark and BizSpark will empower thousands of young people and business professionals across the state to fully participate in today's digital economy."
"Microsoft is excited to support Governor Dalrymple in making STEM education a priority across the state to ensure students' success and to heighten digital literacy and entrepreneurship skills among North Dakota citizens," said Kristin Rhodes, general manager, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corporation. "As the workplace demand for technology skills increases, Microsoft's technology training and nationally recognized programs like the Microsoft IT Academy will give students IT skills they need to reach their full potential as they advance to college and career."
North Dakota Census Estimates Show Population Growth
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Mar 13, 2013.The United States Census Bureau today released the agency's annual Metropolitan/Micropolitan area and county population estimates. North Dakota had a number of areas ranked as some of the fastest growing in the nation. A Metropolitan (Metro) area contains a population of 50,000 or more, while a Micropolitan (Micro) area contains at least 10,000, but less than 50,000.
"North Dakota's workforce and economy have been accelerating for several years and the official estimates are now reflecting that growth," said Rod Backman, chairman of the North Dakota Census Committee. "The fact of the matter is that North Dakota is attracting new residents across the entire state for good jobs and a stable economy."
Population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau today show that the Williston Micro area ranked first and the Dickinson Micro area ranked third among the nation's fastest-growing areas. The Census Bureau reported that the Williston Micro area gained 2,281 residents (9.3 percent growth) between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012. The Dickinson Micro area population increased by 1,624 residents (6.5 percent increase) in the same period. The Minot area ranked as the 25th fastest growing Micro area up 862 residents or 1.2%.
The Census Bureau also reported annual population increases in areas throughout the state, including central North Dakota and eastern North Dakota. According to the Census Bureau, the state's metropolitan statistical areas increased in annual population, including: The Bismarck Metro area with 2,776 residents; the Fargo Metro area gained 3,726 residents and the Grand Forks Metro area gained 827 residents.
"It is important to remember that these U.S. Census estimates refer to residents and not temporary workers or others who view their home residence in another state. This is especially important in western North Dakota where town sizes are rapidly increasing and that growth does not seem to be captured in the Census figures." Backman said. "A survey of county officials in 2012 estimated the State had 24,000 crew camp beds; which likely is housing in excess of 30,000 workers."
The population data is a breakdown from the Census Bureau's state and national population estimates released in December 2012. The Census Bureau reported that North Dakota's population has reached 699,628 residents, an all-time high.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the North Dakota Legislature continue to respond to the state's growth in unprecedented ways, particularly in western North Dakota where the oil industry is driving rapid growth. The state's continued support includes historic funding for infrastructure improvements and enhancements for public health and safety, affordable housing, child care and emergency services.
The North Dakota Census Office, within the North Dakota Department of Commerce, works with the U.S. Census Bureau to disseminate Census, federal and other informational data sets. It serves as North Dakota's official source of population and socio-economic statistics.
Study: Oil contributed $30.4B to state’s economy
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 13, 2013.By Jessica Holdman Oil and gas added more than $30.4 billion to North Dakota’s economy in 2011. North Dakota State University’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics conducted the oil and gas economic impact study funded by the North Dakota Petroleum Council. Ron Ness, petroleum council president, along with others involved in the study reported the [...]
Number of North Dakota Hotel Properties Increases by 13 Percent Since 2011
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Mar 12, 2013.Travelers to and within North Dakota have more hotel options to consider. From 2002 to 2012, 80 new hotels were built in North Dakota, with slightly more than 50 percent constructed in the last two years alone.
Forty-two new hotels have been built in the state since 2011, adding 3,500 rooms, and 39 properties announced plans to add 3,678 rooms in 2013, according to North Dakota Tourism.
A September 2012 Wall Street Journal article cited North Dakota as one of the top 10 U.S. markets for hotel construction.
"Strong demand for hotel rooms has been experienced in communities statewide, not just in western North Dakota's oil patch communities as is the common misperception," said North Dakota Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman. "While many of North Dakota's new hotel properties opened in the western part of the state, 11 hotel properties east of U.S. Highway 83 opened in 2012 or will open in 2013."
Otte Coleman notes this is good news for travelers. "What this means for travelers, other than having an expanded selection to choose from, is that supply is meeting demand - and in some cases now exceeding demand. The end result is that it's easier to find an available hotel room and room rates may be decreasing."
While more hotel rooms are available across North Dakota, Otte Coleman still encourages travelers to plan ahead and book rooms in advance of their travels.
These hotel room statistics are featured in the 2012 Tourism Division Annual Report, which is now available. To request a copy, contact North Dakota Tourism at 701-328-2525 or 800-435-5663, or download a copy at NDtourism.com.
Events centers aim to draw visitors to communities around the region
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 10, 2013.By Jessica Holdman As Bismarck considers its options for a convention center, other cities are working on similar proposals. The Bismarck City Commission wants to expand its convention space to attract and keep conferences that would increase visitor spending in the community. The city is faced with two options. The first would double the size of [...]
Small business owners still uncertain about effects of Affordable Care Act
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 06, 2013.By JESSICA HOLDMAN | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck-Mandan small business owners expressed uncertainty over how aspects of the federal health care law would affect their companies at a roundtable discussion Wednesday. The event at the Kelly Inn in Bismarck was hosted by the Consensus Council and members of the Stop The HIT Coalition, an organization [...]
Innovate ND 2013 Boot Camp Series Continues
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Mar 03, 2013.Innovate ND is hosting a series of "Boot Camps" across the state of North Dakota. The entrepreneurial journey continues March 9 in Minot in the Enterprise Room at the 316 of Old Main on the Minot State University Campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Boot Camp on March 9 will focus on "Build Your Venture's Value: How to Get More Out of a Business Plan". This boot camp will provide information on:
• A template to better understand and communicate business models for making money.
• A clear strategy for how the sections of a business plan must integrate into a cohesive story of value creation that gets investor's attention.
The Innovate ND boot camps are open to anyone interested in learning about developing a business concept. Registrations for the boot camps are free for Innovate ND participants. Non-participants may attend the boot camps for $99 per session. If a boot camp participant decides to sign up for Innovate ND all boot camp fees will apply to their $250 Innovate ND registration.
Dr. Jeff Stamp, UND Entrepreneur-in-Residence, will be facilitating the boot camp series.
Dr. Stamp is a long-time entrepreneur both in his early corporate life as the developer and section manager of the initial brand and product development team of "Baked Lays", for PepsiCo's snack division Frito-Lay as well as his own private entrepreneurial ventures that includes Bold Thinking, LLC an entrepreneurial education company and eight other start-ups.
Farmland prices at all-time high going into 2013
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 03, 2013.By JESSICA HOLDMAN | Bismarck Tribune Farmland prices have been driven to an all-time high by good commodity prices and low interest rates, but there’s uncertainty about how long it will last. In 2012, Farmers National Company, an agricultural real estate and farm and ranch management company, said in a report that sales activity [...]
ND tourism leads nation in growth
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Mar 01, 2013.Bismarck Tribune Staff Year-end visitor statistics for last year show growth in North Dakota tourism. According to the Tourism Division Annual Report, key indicators like attractions, accommodations, border crossings and deplanements have grown. In 2012, 4.57 million visitors attended the state’s major attractions, an increase of 7 percent; there were 1 million deplanements, up 18 [...]
Development Fund Awards Funding Requests Totalling $1,473,000
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 27, 2013.The North Dakota Development Fund, a loan program within the North Dakota Department of Commerce, awarded funding for four projects totaling $1,473,000 at its monthly board meeting held in February.
The North Dakota Development Fund was created in 1991 as an economic development tool. It provides flexible gap financing through debt and equity investments for new or expanding North Dakota primary sector businesses. Primary sector businesses create new wealth and are typically manufacturers, food processors and exported service companies.
The following requests were funded:
Horsch Anderson, LLC, Mapleton, received a $600,000 loan to help finance the building of a new manufacturing facility. The new facility will include a 100,000 square-foot building, which will contain offices and a large production area. Horsch Anderson manufactures agricultural equipment primarily used for seeding and cultivating applications.
Next Healthcare, Inc., Grand Forks, received a $50,000 loan to be used to fund the company's working capital needs during its growth. Next Healthcare is a medical healthcare services business focused on personalized and regenerative medicine.
Packet Digital, LLC, Fargo, received a renewal for a $750,000 line of credit to finance the company's working capital needs. Packet Digital is a technology company providing dynamic power management for memory modules, servers and notebooks.
Taft & Main Properties, LLC, Hillsboro, received a $73,000 loan through the Development Fund's Childcare Loan Program. Taft & Main Properties, LLC is purchasing an existing building in Hillsboro to renovate and lease for a daycare facility.
N.D. strong even without oil
By ND Business Watch from North Dakota Business Watch. Published on Feb 25, 2013.By JESSICA HOLDMAN | Bismarck Tribune State leaders say North Dakota would have grown with or without oil, just not as rapidly. Tax Commissioner Cory Fong said North Dakota was on a strong and steady growth pattern since the middle of 2003, long before the oil boom. “I think it (the state’s economy) was [...]
APUC Awards Funding Requests Totalling $259,932
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 24, 2013.The North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission (APUC) awarded funding requests for five projects totaling $259,932 at its quarterly meeting held February 21, 2013 in Bismarck.
APUC is a program of the North Dakota Department of Commerce which administers grant programs for researching and developing new and expanded uses for North Dakota agricultural products. The grants can be used for basic and applied research, marketing and utilization, farm diversification, nature based agritourism, prototype and technology, and technical assistance.
The following awarded requests were funded:
NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, Fargo, was awarded $75,000 to assist in research that will expand utilization of NDSU products, ultimately improving the expansion and future of the agricultural economy of the state.
NDSU Department of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering, Fargo, will receive funding of $38,612 to assist in research that will explore the feasibility of using flax fiber as a replacement for glass fiber in the Thermo-Lite product line produced by SpaceAge Synthetics.
NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center, Carrington, was awarded $64,320 to defray the costs of a project that will examine the potential use of energy beets for bioremediation of saline soils.
The following projects were awarded, and are pending funding upon completion of contingencies:
Crunchfuls of North Dakota, LLC, Minot, will receive funding of $56,000 to assist in plans for building a direct-sell marketing business plan for value-added agricultural products. This business will leverage the bean-based functional platform marketed under the Crunchfuls brand including cereals, snacks and bars.
Aspen Aquaponics, Bottineau, will receive funding of $26,000 to defray the costs associated with conducting a study for expanding operations to include product packaging for the retail market. The company plans to complete a feasibility study and business plan to confirm the size and scope of the market prior to the expansion.
The next APUC board hearing will be held May 15th, in Fargo. Applications for the May meeting must be received by April 1st. Prototype and Technical Assistance grants must be received by March 1st.
Microsoft to Expand North Dakota Campus
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 18, 2013.Microsoft is going through some growing pains in south Fargo, which could be alleviated with an expansion as early as 2015.
The computer giant's local branch is running near 100 percent occupancy in its three buildings on the main campus, said Don Morton, Microsoft Fargo site leader, and with projected "significant growth," two new buildings are being considered.
View "Microsoft to Expand North Dakota Campus" on the Jamestown Sun site.
"We know our buildings are full now, and so we have to go out into the lease market, which we are exploring," he said. "And we also know in the long run, it's better business to build your own rather than to lease."
Microsoft already leases space at Woodhaven Plaza in south Fargo, which holds about 170 employees, Morton said, and more leasing will happen in the near future until new buildings can be constructed on campus.
Morton would not comment on details of expansion plans or how many jobs the expansion would bring.
An estimated 900 employees worked at the south Fargo Great Plains Software campus when it was acquired by Microsoft in 2001. That number has since ballooned to 1,800, and is projected to hit 2,700 in the company's long-range plans, Morton said.
Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, said he would be a "champion and advocate" for an expansion of Microsoft.
"Having them here is a very, very positive thing for the city and the region," Whitney said.
Microsoft is already the largest technology employer in the area, 2011 data from the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corp. shows. For full-time employees, it ranks seventh out of all businesses, the EDC states.
Morton cautioned that the expansion is far from certain. Many corporations are hesitant about investing in capital spending because of issues with the national and global economy, he said.
"We need immigration reform so bad," he said. "We don't create enough engineers in our country, so immigration reform is critical to our future growth."
The Fargo campus has a "fairly significant workforce" of foreign nationals who are currently working on visas and would be benefited by a clearer path to citizenship, Morton said.
He said "more clarity" on the direction of the national economy is needed before a shovel can be put into the ground.
"We do have to plan, but the hard decisions haven't been made," he said.
North Dakota Puts Man's Life Back on the Rails
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 18, 2013.Scott Steskal hitched rides on freight trains to get to North Dakota's oil boom.
Now the 51-year-old drives a train at a crude oil transloading facility and is getting his life on the right track.
"Until I got up here, my life was pretty much a wreck," he said.
Steskal was living in Las Vegas with no job and no transportation when family members encouraged him to look into job opportunities in North Dakota.
He researched how to ride freight trains and found someone to mentor him on how to do it safely.
Steskal left Las Vegas in December 2010 and became what he calls a tramp, hopping on and off freight trains through several states to travel north. People he met during his trip gave him the "track name" of Jesse James.
"It's really a whole culture," Steskal said.
He spent a few months in Pasco, Wash., and later Denver doing day labor work before he decided to take a bus to North Dakota. He hitchhiked from Dickinson and arrived in Williston in September 2011.
But he quickly found that getting an oil job with no experience was not going to be easy.
"Nothing was biting," Steskal said.
View the "Faces of the Boom: North Dakota Puts Man's Life Back on the Rails" on the Grand Forks Herald site.
Steskal estimates he's been homeless eight to 10 times in his life, so it wasn't hard for him to find places around Williston to sleep.
"Pick a bush. I slept there," Steskal said.
After two weeks, Steskal was about to hop a train out of Williston when Walmart called and offered him $14 an hour to do maintenance.
"They gave me the opportunity to get on my feet," Steskal said.
In six weeks, he had purchased a car and a camper from someone he met at Walmart.
He continued to look for an oil job, and after about eight months was hired to work for Strobel Starostka, a contractor for the Inergy Crude Logistics oil transloading facility in Epping.
Steskal was back with trains, this time loading cars with crude oil. He has been promoted to locomotive engineer and now drives the train at the facility.
"He's extremely dedicated and he loves his job," said terminal manager Bill Baker.
Steskal said he makes $28 an hour with plenty of overtime. He's now planning a trip to the Bahamas and sending money to his parents and other family members.
"I got here. I had nothing. Now I've got something. It's a share thing," Steskal said.
On his days off, Steskal often buys meat and cooks for other crew members.
"He's a microwave chef," Baker said.
Steskal's parents, Robert and Joyce Steskal of Arizona, said they had "just about given up on him," but he's changed his life 180 degrees since moving to North Dakota.
"He has made such an adjustment with his life," Joyce Steskal said. "He's so proud of himself and we're so proud of him."
Steskal still lives in a camper but is starting to look for some land to make his home more permanent. He hopes to retire in North Dakota.
"I never pictured myself actually retiring because my life has been in such disarray," Steskal said. "I feel so lucky to be in the place I'm at."
North Dakota Rising in the Ranks of the "New Economy"
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 18, 2013.While North Dakota may not be the next Silicon Valley, it is making significant progress in technology and innovation rankings.
According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank, North Dakota, a state mostly associated with old industries like farming and oil, placed 34th in the new economy index in 2012. Just 10 years earlier the state placed 47th.
The new economy is defined as "state economies that are innovative, globally oriented and built around knowledge-based industries."
Is North Dakota becoming a leading state in knowledge building? "Probably not," according to a Fedgazette Roundup article published by Phil Davies. The article said North Dakota's scores may have risen because of rapid economic growth in old economy sectors rather than new.
View the "North Dakota Rising in the Ranks of the "New Economy"" on the Bloomberg Business site.
The article said the rise in ranks may partially be from high-tech manufacturing and software development in the eastern part of the state but the oil boom in the west is really the driver of the state's economy.
Andy Peterson, president of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, said he disagrees.
"I take exception when people say the economy is solely driven by oil," he said.
Al Anderson, North Dakota Department of Commerce commissioner, pointed out that lot of growth was happening before the boom. For example, the state ranked 38th in per capita income in 2000 and 17th in 2007 before oil production really took off in the state.
The Fedgazette Roundup article also suggested the main areas that North Dakota rose in the ranks, job creation and venture capital, also can be attributed to the oil boom. It said out of state investors were attracted to the state by the chance of getting their piece of the boom.
North Dakota went from 49th in job creation rankings in 2002 to 22nd in 2012. The state also went from 49th in 2002 to 36th in 2012 for venture capital rankings.
"Without a doubt ag and energy have played a big role," Anderson said. He added companies related to those industries are high tech.
"Production agriculture is a new animal all together," Peterson said. He said much of agricultural machinery and manufacturing is becoming computerized and North Dakota companies are taking advantage of it.
Anderson and Peterson both pointed to john Deere and Case IH facilities that make electronics in the eastern part of the state. They also mentioned Microsoft, which employs 1,900 people, and Amazon, which employs 600 to 700 people in the east.
Anderson said North Dakota's rise in the ranks could be attributed to the state's work in growing target industries. Starting in 2000, the state focused on attracting value added agriculture, tourism, technology, advanced manufacturing and energy companies.
"All five of those key industries are making a big difference," Anderson said.
In knowledge jobs rankings North Dakota went from 33rd in 2010 to 31st in 2012.
North Dakota also has taken on a global perspective, Anderson said. Exports have gone up 440 percent over the last decade. For global scope, the state has gone from a ranking of 34th in 2010 to 32nd in 2012.
In Bismarck, Bobcat is spending about $10 million on an Acceleration Center at the Northern Plains Commerce Centre, said spokeswoman Laura Ness Owens. The space is used for product design and testing so new ideas can be taken directly to market, she said.
Ness Owens said Bobcat has been innovative in its compact attachment industry, creating new tools for people to use on their Bobcat equipment like an attachment used for small concrete pouring and road repair jobs. Customers can use the attachment rather than a cement truck or repaving larger areas than necessary. This center will be used to invent more products like that.
In value added manufaturing , North Dakota ranks 23rd.
Guy Moos, the owner of Baker Boy in Dickinson, is bringing technology to the baking industry. He said the company recently invested more than $20 million to add 50,000 square feet to its facility. Within that space one of the things added was a tunnel oven for making artisan breads.
Moos said the oven is one that is typically seen in larger bakeries. It can make 120 to 150, 12-inch sub sandwich buns a minute and wrap the buns individually. The machine allows for production with fewer people.
"That is a great thing when facing 1.4 percent unemployment," he said. "Finding workforce is more difficult than ever."
Other technology includes a computer controlled refrigeration system and bar code tracking for baked goods and ingredients.
"Every day we're looking for ways we can better employ technology," Moos said.
Baker Boy sells dough and bread to retail outlets and food service companies.
Daymarck, a Bismarck-based home health medical coding company, also is a big user of technology. With the company's software, customers can gain secure remote access to medical records, owner Nick Dobrzelecki said. With the software system he said the company is able to take care of more clients in a timely matter. The software is accessible on all mobile devices.
Dobrzelecki said it's the company's specific niche of home health care that makes it innovative as well because it was a sector of health care not formerly tapped into by coders. His company has been doubling in revenue every year for the last four years. If there were more certified home care coders in the state he said he would hire 20 more people right away.
This year Dobrzelecki said he plans to launch several new business lines, including an education line to help clients keep up with new regulations.
National Information Solutions Cooperative, a software development company for utility and telephone companies in Mandan, is another example of an information technology company. North Dakota ranks 40th in IT jobs.
Doug Remboldt, vice president of utility solutions and technical services at NISC, said the company is spending a lot of time creating apps to help companies do things like locate fiber or restore service to a downed power line. He also said the company has developed data-interpreting software to help utility customers track their energy use with Smart Grid technology.
Remboldt said North Dakota has never really been thought of as a tech state but there are job opportunities at a very high tech level locally. He said the state may not come up with the next big thing in technology but companies here specialize in creating business uses out of technology, taking it to the next level.
Just Don't Call It a Drone
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 14, 2013.CHARLES A. TAYLOR loves radio-controlled model airplanes - a hobby, he decided, that could give him a leg up in a potentially lucrative new industry: drones. Mary A. Wallace expected to end up in management at an airport or airline but switched majors to remotely piloted planes because, incongruously, there would be less travel. Thomas Boutain wanted to start a company serving farmers around the Minnesota town where he grew up, mapping moisture, growth, pests and other conditions in their fields, from the air.
All three were among the first to choose the University of North Dakota's new major in unmanned aircraft systems.
View "Just Don't Call it a Drone" on the New York Times site.
Dozens of colleges with aviation programs now offer courses in unmanned aerial systems, and several universities have recently added majors. The University of North Dakota was first, in 2009, and has about 120 students in the field. Last May, Kansas State University Salina graduated its first student with a Bachelor of Science in unmanned aircraft systems. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University started offering the degree in 2011 at its Daytona Beach, Fla., campus, and now has 89 U.A.S. majors. More programs are rolling out: Indiana State University plans to offer a major this spring.
Today, the biggest use of drones is by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency, which operate hundreds of them around the world. Only military personnel pilot armed drones. But government contractors do much of the scouting in advance, conducting surveillance missions over countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Mr. Taylor, who graduated in August, has been offered a job by a private contractor and is waiting for his security clearance.
At the moment, there are hardly any remote-controlled vehicles in American civil airspace. But the Federal Aviation Administration is under instructions from Congress to fully integrate them by 2015. Already, regulations for lightweight craft are being rolled out, as the F.A.A. works through new technologies to secure radio communications and avoid collisions.
The agency predicts that 10,000 remote-piloted planes will be operating in American airspace within five years.
"It's a rising new frontier of aviation," said Andrew R. Lacher, a researcher at the Mitre Corporation, a nonprofit organization that does extensive work for the government on drones. "Just about anything you do with aviation today," he said, "you can do with unmanned aerial vehicles in the future."
Just don't call them drones. People in the business dislike that word, which brings to mind a robot with no pilot; there is a pilot, but not on board.
Equipped with cameras and other sensors, drones of the future will report back on traffic, survey land, inspect pipelines and transmission lines, conduct border surveillance and other law enforcement work, assess damage after storms and earthquakes, and even spot fish.
Majoring in the field is certainly not required but it's a competitive advantage. Some students will go on to earn six figures, depending on skill level required, said Alexander J. Mirot, coordinator of Embry-Riddle's U.A.S. program. Size and complexity of the aircraft vary greatly. "Some weigh only a few pounds," he said. "Others are the size of an A-10" attack plane.
Experts predict that unmanned vehicles will offer better job prospects than the airlines. Indeed, drone operators could end up flying full-size airplanes. Britain has been experimenting with a jet flown regionally by remote control, although it has "safety captains" on board and no passengers. Some foresee the current standard - two pilots in the cockpit - replaced by one on board and one on the ground and, eventually, both on the ground. Benjamin M. Trapnell, an associate professor at the University of North Dakota, compares it to the transition to elevators without human operators. Cargo planes would most likely come first.
WHAT YOU'LL STUDY
Expect to be immersed in complex science, technology and engineering. "The components of that degree span so many disciplines," said Daryl S. Davidson, the executive director of the Auvsi Foundation, an arm of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. "It's not just aerospace engineering, it's not just mechanical engineering. It's electrical engineering, mechatronics, sensor and human factors."
Any aviation major studies aerodynamics, propulsion and other systems of a plane. Students specializing in unmanned systems also learn about the peculiarities of drones: the telemetry, including antenna design, that links them to the ground-based pilot, as well as the sensors they will design and operate to monitor crops, pipelines, power lines and other targets. They will design ground-control stations from which they will maneuver the aircraft, and program drones to perform complex tasks on autopilot. They will have to launch them from a runway or catapult or, like a javelin, by human arm, and recover them after flight; pilots may be far away and never see the aircraft they control.
Because of restrictions on drones in airspace, the University of North Dakota and Embry-Riddle fly only small models within line of sight, but they make extensive use of simulators. Kansas State has permission to fly from an airport to a nearby weapons range. Most students will also learn to fly a conventional airplane, and many will earn a commercial license (the University of North Dakota requires one).
WHAT YOU'LL PAY
At Embry-Riddle, one of the country's most prestigious private flight schools, tuition and fees are $30,720. Embry-Riddle has two tracks, one requiring a private pilot's license, which costs $50,000 to $60,000 depending on how much flight time (and expense) students already have under their belts. Students in either track are likely to spend another $1,200 for time in drone simulators.
Programs at state universities will be far less pricey: between $7,000 and $8,000 for residents, and between $17,000 and $20,150 for nonresidents. But there are add-ons: North Dakota's commercial license, including instrument and multiengine ratings, comes to an estimated $55,695. Kansas State students must obtain a private pilot's license with instrument rating, at an estimated cost of $12,960. Students can get further certifications, including multiengine or instrument, said Natalie Blair, a spokeswoman for Kansas State, "and many do because the skills they learn help with situational awareness, which is an integral part of remotely piloting an aircraft."
YOU'RE MAJORING IN WHAT?
Students may face a raised eyebrow when they tell friends and family what they're studying. Some think drones are glorified model airplanes. "I get that all the time," said Mr. Boutain, who graduates this year from North Dakota. He mimicked a friend: " ‘U.A.S.? What is that?' "
Others think of their deadly use, targeting insurgents in foreign lands, or potential to invade privacy. "A lot of people say it is something they would be worried about," Ms. Wallace said, scoffing at the idea. "Everybody thinks it's going to be looking into their window."
In fact, besides their mundane industrial and commercial uses, drones can be used by police agencies to follow vehicles and people.
Mr. Davidson of the Auvsi Foundation acknowledged that students were entering a field with some negative connotations. In October, the University of North Dakota set up the first research compliance committee, a kind of review board to address the social issues raised by drones, like security of private data.
"Kudos to North Dakota that they're anticipating questions that maybe are whispered now but they'll be asked publicly a year from now," he said. "With any new form of technology, you can use it for good or you can use it for bad."
A version of this article appeared in print on February 3, 2013, on page ED10 of Education Life with the headline: Just Don't Call It a Drone.
Dalrymple, MDU Resources Announce Plans for Diesel Refinery
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 07, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple, MDU Resources Group, Inc. today announced plans to build a diesel refinery in southwestern North Dakota. MDU Resources and Indiana-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners have formed a joint venture, Dakota Prairie Refining, to build and operate a refinery capable of processing 20,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day. The plant will produce diesel fuel and other hydrocarbons.
The refinery's design and engineering work are in the final stages and construction may begin as soon as this spring. Plans are to build the refinery on a 318-acre site about four miles west of Dickinson.
"The development of another refinery has been a long-time goal of our state and with this project we are achieving that goal," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. "The decision by MDU Resources and Calumet to move forward on a new diesel refinery is good news for North Dakota and the entire nation.
"This project will be built by the private sector. It will create more jobs, it will help to further diversify our economy and it will increase the region's supply of diesel fuel," Dalrymple said. "Our Department of Commerce will continue working with MDU and Calumet to move this project forward."
The plant will employ approximately 100 people. Hiring and training of operating personnel is expected to begin in 2013. The plant's construction is expected to cost between $280 million and $300 million.
Gov. Dalrymple met with company officials from MDU Resources and Calumet in March to discuss their plans to build a diesel refinery in western North Dakota. During that meeting, Dalrymple told company officials that the state will continue to assist MDU Resources and Calumet Specialty Products throughout the planning process.
$270 Million Immediately Available for Road Projects
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Feb 04, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed into law Senate Bill 2176, making $720 million immediately available for statewide highway and road improvement projects. Dalrymple recommended and the Legislature agreed to "fast track" the legislation so that construction projects can begin at the onset of the 2013 construction season.
"This appropriation will be part of a larger transportation funding package," Dalrymple said. "With this funding immediately available, the Department of Transportation can move forward on statewide road improvement projects without delay.
"We are committed to meeting the needs of our growing state, and that includes addressing critical infrastructure improvements that will enhance the safety of our traveling public," Dalrymple said.
Legislative leaders fast tracked a portion of Dalrymple's proposed $2.7 billion road and highway improvement package and included an emergency clause in the bill to expedite highway and road projects slated for western North Dakota and other areas of the state. Without priority action, the funding would not be available until after June 30 and well into the construction season. Some key road projects in western North Dakota and elsewhere may have been delayed until the following year.
Joining Dalrymple for the bill's signing were the legislation's sponsors: Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, House Majority Leader Al Carlson, Sen. Ray Holmberg, Sen. Gary Lee, Rep. Jeff Delzer and Rep. Blair Thoreson.
"We have an ambitious plan for road and highway improvements across the state and by making this funding available right away we can move forward with projects as soon as the construction season begins," Wardner said.
"Fast tracking the appropriation was important so that the Department of Transportation can begin construction earlier in the year," Carlson said.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is now able to accelerate the design, purchasing of right-of-way, bidding and awarding of priority roadway projects. The NDDOT will begin bidding projects this month, said Grant Levi, the department's interim director.
Projects scheduled for the 2013 construction season include:
- Continued construction to convert U.S. Highway 85, between Watford City and Williston, into a four-lane highway.
- Roadway improvements along U.S. Highway 2.
- Roadway reconstruction on ND Highway 8.
- Additional roadway improvements along ND Highway 22.
- Reconstruction on portions of ND Highway 2.
- Resurfacing on U.S. Highway 52.
- Roadway improvements on ND Highway 1804.
- Roadway improvements on ND Highway 1806.
The appropriation makes available $620 million for major highway improvement projects in North Dakota's oil-producing region and in other areas of the state. The bill also includes $100 million for local road projects in cities, counties and townships in non-oil producing counties.
In all, Dalrymple has proposed a funding package totaling $2.7 billion for road and highway improvement projects, bypass routes, interchanges and for other statewide infrastructure upgrades during the 2013-2015 biennium. The governor's funding package includes nearly $1 billion for infrastructure improvements in the state's oil-producing counties, including $142 million for county and township road improvements and $214 million to enhance the region's Energy Impact Grant program.
ADS Drain Tile Plant Serves Dakotas Boom
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jan 28, 2013.You can see it from Interstate 29, as you pass the Buxton, N.D., exit, but that corral of black drain tile is a sign ofa significant chapter in the region's agricultural history - a huge trend.
This is Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. - adrainage tile manufacturing operation that in the past year expanded to take up an entire building that once housed an equipment auction business, and then a separate drain tile installation business. The inventory of "maxi coil" rolls covers much of the ADS facility's 12-acre yard, which seems to get fuller and fuller.
View the story on the Grand Forks Herald site.
Kevin Raap is the agricultural market manager for the company, based in Hilliard, Ohio. Raap says the Buxton plant is part of a huge trend that started in the traditional Corn Belt and has moved north and west.
ADS started its business with agriculture in 1966. In about 1982, the agricultural market went into a slump with the farm credit crisis and didn't start coming back until the early 1990s, he says. In the Dakotas and Minnesota, the agricultural market has been "popping," especially in the mid-2000s.
ADS has built a significant network of plants. In the past two years, the company has added three plants in the Upper Midwest - one in Buxton, but also Watertown, S.D., in September 2012, and in Hampton, Iowa, in September 2011.
The company recently put more than $10 million into the agricultural market for new or upgraded facilities, says Tori Durliat, the company's director of marketing.
Raap declines to say exactly - or even relatively - how much of ADS' total business is agricultural, but he notes that 16 of the company's manufacturing plants in the Midwest are heavily involved with agriculture.
Buxton's market area
In March 2011, ADS started its Buxton plant with one line of production and has expanded from producing only single-wall pipe to dual-wall, which is used for commercial markets for things like storm sewers and culverts, as well as agricultural mains.
The Buxton operation serves the entire North Dakota market, as well as some of northwest Minnesota and some of southern Canada. "We're here primarily because of the agricultural drainage market and to work in some of the commercial markets in western North Dakota with the oil, too," Raap says.
In the past, tiling has been strong in places such as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and parts of Minnesota. Even in traditional tiling states, more tiling is being done as farm incomes have increased to record levels.
Farm equity is at the highest level ever. As land values climb, farmers are trying to get the most economic return from their land. "Tiling is one of the things that can really increase yields from 20 to 40 to 50 percent," Raap says.
He says some areas in Iowa that have 100- or 120-foot spacings with tile are now being split because farmers- using yield monitors and Global Positioning Systems - can literally see the decreased yield results between the tile lines. About 30 to 40 percent of the jobs are retrofits, where they're splitting the lines for more complete drainage.
"Up in the Dakotas, that's probably the last part of the Corn Belt that's been introduced to tiling in a significant way," he says.
Mike Hagen, ADS regional sales manager says tiling has taken off in the Dakotas as crop prices have risen, but also because of shorter-season corn and soybean varieties, as well as the background of generally wetter conditions.
Tile demand has continued to expand, even in the drought of 2012. "People are looking at drainage as a long-term investment, not asa one-year deal," Raap says.
But matching tile supply to demand isa tricky task.
The rhythm of tile
The historic drought "changed the whole rhythm of the season," Raap says. "Since farmers did not know what their yields were going to be, or what their insurance payments were going to be, they did not commit to drainage as usual."
He says farmers typically committed in mid-November instead of the usual August and September .
A lot of the pipe goes in during spring and fall, Raap says. "When it hits, it's all hands on deck and it's very fast and very hard, and it stretches all capacities as far as trucking, inventory, service issues and everything. You know how farmers are: ‘I want it yesterday.'"
Durliat says ADS as a whole has 3,200 employees. In North Dakota, the plant competes for labor in an environment of relatively low unemployment. The majority of the workers are from the region, Durliat says.
"The intent is to hire people locally, and if there is a need to train them for specific skills, we do have programs in place to provide that training, and continual training for other positions as they grow as employees," Durliat says. "We want to hire people who are going to have their whole career with ADS. At various locations, we've had people with 50-plus years of employment with the company."
Most applicants have high school or better education, with experience and appropriate licenses, where needed. A strong work ethic counts.
Turnover is lower than industry averages for the type of business, Durliat says. The company is privately and employeeowned, and offersa good benefit plan.
Braun Intertec Brings ND Natives Back Home
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jan 28, 2013.Several years ago when new construction and engineering projects were drying up and the economy spiraled into turbulent times, leaders at Braun Intertec, an engineering, environmental consulting and testing firm, looked to North Dakota to keep employees working. That was in 2008.
The result turned the $3 million market into nearly $20 million for Braun Intertec during the biggest recession since the Great Depression and has brought native North Dakotans back to the state.
Since then, Braun Intertec has been involved with many of the significant oil and gas projects in the Bakken Formation, thrusting the company into the middle of the globally-watched Bakken oil boom.
View the story on the Minot Daily News Site.
Like other companies working in the region, Braun Intertec not only retains talent, they continually have more job openings than skilled workers to fill their growing offices in North Dakota.
In recent months, the company opened two new offices in Minot and Dickinson, to complement its Bismarck and West Fargo locations. The Minot office is located in the Northern Plains Energy Park at 403-40th Ave. NE, and opened in late summer 2012.
The new Minot office supports about 30 staff members who provide services to address the oil and gas market and the infrastructure challenges resulting from the swell of workers and new residents coming into the state.
Additionally, the Dickinson office is primarily focused on addressing workforce and infrastructure-related projects, which also includes developing accommodations for retail growth. The office supports 12 employees who are working on projects in Williston, Dickinson and surrounding western North Dakota.
The company also has a mobile testing lab at Stanley.
"Braun Intertec is highly vested in North Dakota," said Steve Nagle, a Valley City-native and vice president at Braun Intertec. "We are committed to investing in our North Dakota communities and creating as many high-quality jobs in our industry as possible."
Nagle said one of the company's biggest focus areas is finding skilled workers who have roots in North Dakota and who are currently living in the state, or interested in returning. Because of the demand, the company has also had to look beyond the state to fill job openings.
"Construction has been down in the southwestern United States and many contractors have moved into North Dakota to fill gaps," said Nagle. "We've been fortunate to find people with the skills we need who have been born and raised in North Dakota as well as those willing to relocate from other states."
Nagle points to Braun Intertec employees Dustin Auch, who manages the Minot office and Joe Callaway, who works in the Dickinson office as prime examples. Auch was born and raised in Minot and Callaway has relocated from Florida so he could continue to support his family during the recession.
"We want to continue to grow our base of engineers who were raised in North Dakota. We also want to talk with engineers and technicians who are serious about a permanent relocation," said Nagle. "Braun Intertec understands the challenges in North Dakota and we're looking for long-term solutions to help address the needs."
The company has been established in the state for more than 20 years providing geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, environmental consulting and nondestructive examination services on numerous projects ranging from transportation infrastructure projects and institutional structures, to more recently compressor stations, rail load out facilities, well pad design and plant expansions, oil and gas separation facilities, administration buildings and oil-field services projects throughout the area.
Braun Intertec, an employee-owned firm based in Minneapolis, first began serving the energy (oil and coal) market in North Dakota in 1981. After that energy boom subsided, the company established an office in Bismarck to serve projects in the transportation, institutional and commercial sectors. Later, the company expanded its footprint in the state with a project office in Grand Forks to help support the recovery effort during the record Red River flooding in 1997.
Since the 2008 Bakken oil boom, Braun Intertec has seen a significant increase in demand for its comprehensive base of services that extends through nondestructive testing, which is tied primarily to pipeline construction and compressor station work. It's this service, said Nagle, that sets the company apart from many of its competitors. Oil and gas customers have been relying heavily on this to make sure the pipelines meet the necessary code compliance, safety and quality control requirements.
Traditionally, North Dakota made up 10 percent of total overall revenues for Braun Intertec. That number is now up to 26 percent and the company is predicting it will grow to as high as 50 percent of total overall revenues in the next five to six years. After that, Nagle predicts that Braun Intertec's profile will shift once again to offer more maintenance type services for the new infrastructure.
Commerce Commissioner Says State Faces One Key Challenge
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jan 28, 2013.North Dakota is thriving in economic growth and population growth, but the state still has one big challenge - changing what others think of it.
That was the message Alan Anderson, commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, told members of the Williston Chamber of Commerce during the chamber's annual banquet Friday.
Anderson said North Dakota has always struggled with how others view the state. Many formed their impressions by the movie "Fargo" and have no real idea what is happening in the state.
View the story on the Williston Herald site.
Anderson said in the 1980s a group of people in academics suggested tearing down fences, planting native grasses and letting the buffalo roam free. Their message was that North Dakota basically had no value.
"Williston and North Dakota weren't always the place to be," Anderson said. "It's hard to believe. We're getting a lot of national attention now."
The national attention is primarily due to two reasons - economic growth and population growth. Both are linked to oil boom in the Bakken Shale.
"We've been No. 1 in the Gallup poll for the last three years for jobs," Anderson said. "In 2000, what was the No. 1 thing they wanted in North Dakota? Jobs. We've grown about 66,000 jobs in the last 10 years, and there are 20,000 jobs open."
And right in the middle of the growth is Williston.
In the second quarter of 2011, Williston had 22,000 jobs. One year later, the city had 34,000 jobs.
While oil has been the catalyst, Anderson said other parts of the economy are also growing.
"In North Dakota, we have a very business-friendly environment," Anderson said. "Because of our success in agriculture and energy, it's taking off on the manufacturing side."
Along with jobs, North Dakota has also seen a significant increase in wages.
"The wages or wealth increased per capita by 78 percent in the last decade," he said. "Needless to say, the rest of the country can't say that."
Over the last decade, Williston has seen some of the biggest changes. The city has grown from the ninth largest city in the state to sixth and should be fifth in the next year.
On top of that, Williston has led the state in taxable sales for the last two years, topping cities three and four times as large.
The real question, Anderson said, is what does the future look like?
"How long will this last?" he asked. "There's 35,000 and maybe 40,000 well locations. How many wells do we have today? About 8,000."
Anderson said if drilling were to continue at the same pace as today, around 2,000 a year, wells will be drilled for another 10 or 12 years.
For every well drilled, one to one and a half permanent jobs are created.
"It looks like you'll be adding 2,000 to 3,000 permanent jobs a year," he said.
One of the best parts about the job outlook in North Dakota is the employees that are coming to the state.
"Our workforce is getting younger, and it's more diverse," Anderson said. "We're returning our youth."
But there remains one problem - the state's perception to outsiders.
"If we're going to hold onto those youngsters, we've got to change our image," Anderson said. "If we can get people talking more about our economy instead of our weather, we'll be fine. We're at an exciting time."
North Dakota Cities Rank in 2012 Best-Performing Cities Index
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jan 16, 2013.Two North Dakota cities rank highly in the 2012 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index (179 smallest metro listing).
Bismarck ranks 3rd while Fargo ranks 5th.
"These rankings by the Milken Institute are evidence of North Dakota's strong economy, diverse community offerings and good quality of life," North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Alan Anderson said. "It is also strong evidence that local leaders and business people are working hard to support a growing economy that is creating new jobs while the opposite is true in many other states."
The 2012 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The components include job, wage and salary, and technology growth.
The annual index provides a snapshot of where America's jobs are being created and sustained. It factors in both long and short-term indicators of employment and salary growth, as well as technology output measurements.
The full report is available at http://bestcities.milkeninstitute.org.
Dalyrmple Recommends Funding to Land National UAS Test Site
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jan 15, 2013.Gov. Jack Dalrymple today said North Dakota's open airspace and extensive aviation resources and expertise make the state a strong candidate for a national test site for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Dalrymple said the state must continue their work to land one of six national UAS test sites.
"North Dakota has a long-standing history in UAS operations and development, ranging from military applications to offering the nation's first UAS bachelor's degree at the University of North Dakota," Dalrymple said. "By leveraging our resources and expertise at the University of North Dakota, the Grand Forks Air Force Base, the North Dakota Air National Guard and at our growing cluster of high-tech businesses that support our UAS industry, we have a great deal to offer in establishing a North Dakota test site."
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill requires the FAA to select six test sites as part of a program to safely integrate manned and unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. Initially, the FAA intended to identify the six test sites by the end of 2012, but the selection process has not been completed.
In his executive budget, Dalrymple included $1 million to support the North Dakota Airspace Integration Team's work in getting North Dakota selected as a national test site for UAS integration. Dalrymple's budget includes an additional $4 million in development funds to be appropriated only if North Dakota is selected to operate a national test site. North Dakota has long been a leader in aviation, and quickly expanded into UAS operations and development more than a decade ago.
Commerce Awards Grant for Bismarck State College Workforce Training Program
From ND Department Of Commerce - News. Published on Jan 14, 2013.The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced a $50,000 workforce enhancement grant for Bismarck State College (BSC). The grant will help the Agriculture Industry and Technology program and the Farm and Ranch Management program at BSC purchase additional precision agricultural equipment and software, develop curriculum and provide training for faculty.
Precision agriculture is a farm management concept based on observing and responding to intra-field variations. Precision agriculture relies on new technologies such as satellite imagery, information technology and geospatial tools to enhance farming practices.
"The workforce enhancement grants help increase the capacity of our higher education institutions like BSC to provide a consistent stream of qualified workers educated right here in North Dakota," Department of Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said. "The partnership of industry, education, and state and local governments is needed to meet the developing workforce needs of North Dakota."
Workforce enhancement grants enable two-year colleges to apply for funds to help create or enhance training programs that address workforce needs of North Dakota's private-sector employers. Projects require a dollar-for-dollar match of all state money with private funds.
Grant funding may be used for curriculum development, equipment, recruiting participants, and training and certifying instructors. Funds may not be used to supplant funding for current operations.
The Workforce Enhancement Council reviews all proposals and provides funding recommendations to the commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce. The council consists of the private-sector membership of the North Dakota Workforce Development Council, the state director of the Department of Career & Technical Education, and the division director of the Workforce Development Division of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, who serves as the chair.