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Commerce official; 'Main Street' initiative is gaining in importance

ND Dept. of Commerce

The Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Commissioner of North Dakota’s Commerce Department says the Main Street initiative to create “healthy and vibrant” communities is growing in importance.

Shawn Kessel said North Dakota is competing with every other state to attract businesses – and attract workers. He said between $25 billion and $30 billion in business investment is pending in North Dakota.

"If we can land those, it means there are going to be job openings," Kessel said. "We want our communities to be able to put their best foot forward, and land this new workforce in their communities."

Kessel said there is no “one size fits all” solution. He said in each community, it takes active conversations about the directions for that community.

"If they don't create a plan, and actively sek the future that they want, they will inherit the future that they get," Kessel said. "They may not like what they get."

Kessel said the community needs to create the plan, identify local champions to put the plan in pace, and then take action.

"We can't let a plan sit on a shelf and gather dust," Kessel said. "You have to implement the plan\, and hopefully right after you create it."

Kessel said just over 70 communities are participating in the Main Street Initiative.

'Partners in Planning'

North Dakota’s Commerce Department is accepting applications for its “Partners in Planning” grants.

The grants help local governments and non-profit organizations to complete plans to create healthy and vibrant communities.

Kessel said there are two grant options – completing a comprehensive plan or an economic development and diversification plan.

"We would really like to see communities take a good hard look at what their communities look like," Kessel said. "Is it attractive to the type of employees they're trying to bring to their community? And if there are deficits, this plan can help them identify those, and create a step-by-step way of crossing those hurdles."

The deadline to apply for these grants is Jan. 31, 2022.

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