Gov. talks tech and 'Mainstreet' -- legislators want more specifics

Aug 18, 2017

Gov. Doug Burgum (R) at the GNDC Policy Summit.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum continues to talk about expanding North Dakota’s technology sector and his “Mainstreet Initiative.”

But Legislative leaders say they’re waiting for more policy specifics from Burgum.

The Governor outlined those issues in his talk to the Greater North Dakota Chamber’s Policy Summit in Bismarck.  Burgum talked about the state stepping up its game in technology, and discussed how the state needs to attract and keep workers. He said one way to do that is to make the cities more livable.

"If you interview them, they say, 'Hey -- I want to live in a place that's vibrant, that's walkable, that's got arts, that has culture, that has all these things,'" Burgum said. "We have to be intentional -- not just about creating the jobs, we have to be intentional about creating the cities where people live."

Moderator Charley Johnson (l), Rep. Al Carlson (R-Fargo), Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), Sen. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) and Sen. Joan Heckaman (D-New Rocksford) at the GNDC Policy Summit.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The legislative leaders say they generally agree with Burgum’s concepts. But House Minority Leader Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks) said it’s a question of how you do it.

"The devil's in the detals," Mock said. "But we're supprtive of a change."

Sen. Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said he, too, likes some of the ideas. But he said they need to be translated into policy.

"Government doesn't work like a corporation or a business," Wardner said. "There's a little difference there."

House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) said the themes themselves aren’t new.

"For good or for bad, we're still talking about economic development, growing our economy," Carlson said. "And we're still talking about growing our workforce."

Sen. Minority Leader Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford) sounded a cautionary note about more reliance on technology.

"If we go too tech-y, and too innovative in some areas, are we going to lose that personal touch that is so important to connect?" said Heckaman. "Especially in the classroom -- I think there's nothing that can replace a good teacher in a classroom."

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