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Commerce Commissioner: 'Carbon Neutrality' goal is helping to attract business

ND Dept. of Commerce

North Dakota’s Commerce Commissioner says the state’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 has caught the attention of a number of businesses – not only in the US, but around the world.

James Leiman said he’s been in board rooms of companies across the globe — and the companies are interested.

"When you have a country like Japan, for example, that has a carbon neutrality goal by 2050, and we look at them and say, 'We want to get there 20 years earlier, and we can work with you innovatively to capture the carbon and create the product that you desire via a transportation mode that is somewhat inexpensive,' people's ears perk up," Leiman said.

Leiman said so far, $30 billion worth of projects have – as he put it – come off the drawing board, and are being developed in North Dakota. He said the projects span a lot of targeted industries.

"You have this unique mixture of energy, 'value-added energy,' and 'value-added ag,' all coming together to meet global demands," Leiman said. "And people are willing to pay a premium for our product."

Leiman said this underscores the need for workers. He said right now, North Dakota is working on its “branding,” to help attract workers.

"We have a couple of unique workforce initiatives underway," Leiman said. "We are trying to increase that 'brand awareness' of our state, so people have an idea of opportunities."

And Leiman said one part of that branding is “merit based growth.”

"That doesn't really exist in other parts of the country anymore," Leiman said. "I grew up in New Jersey, and it's really hard to climb the ladder there."

Leiman said the growth will happen statewide. And he said the proposed natural gas pipeline from the Bakken to the Red River Valley will really help attract businesses.

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