December 2, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going, Right?

Yes, but economic development stakeholders in the North Dakota-Minnesota Red River Valley region aren’t waiting for times to get tough before they get going. “Too often economic development planning efforts are a response to an economic downturn. The need to collaborate among municipalities, coordinate planning initiatives, and leverage regional assets is considered a temporary activity—necessary only to right the ship and set a new course,” states the Valley Prosperity Partnership, itself a broad-based interstate coalition public officials, business executives, community leaders, and college and university chiefs.

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The partnership’s five-year action plan (2014-2019) is trying to capitalize on and sustain the valley’s unprecedented job growth by identifying the barriers to future growth and recommending how to surmount them. Ironically, one of those barriers arose from the valley’s success: a lack of skilled workers needed to fill the very jobs the economic boom created. Discouraging workers from relocating to the region is the general misperception that its jobs are mainly in the energy fields. Consequently, the partnership recommends a strategy to market and promote all the different kinds of jobs available there.

The partnership also recommends integrating veterans and military families into the economy and regional recruitment programs aimed at interns, college students and alumni, and foreign-born talent. Other recommendations include accelerating business startups and stimulating innovation, and insuring that the valley’s water infrastructure and management systems are fully funded.