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Commerce Dept. continues its work to attract immigrant labor

The Office of Legal Immigration in the state department of Commerce has contracted with two consultants to help the office work on helping businesses recruit and retain foreign labor.

Department workforce director Katie Ralston Howe said the two firms -- Dalberg and Labor Mobility Partnerships -- will work on a statewide study of businesses, that will be completed by the spring of 2024. Ralston Howe said the study will identify the “best opportunities” for the state to support immigration, the employers that will hire and integrate the individuals into their communities and companies, and fill open jobs in North Dakota.

"Where we see the greatest and earliest opportunities are to recruit immigrants who are already here in the United States, who already have work authorization," Ralston Howe said. "Our consultants are aware of large populations of these immigrant groups, so we're excited to build out strategies around that."

Ralston Howe said beyond that, the Department is also exploring what it might look like to start recruiting and helping individuals outside of the borders.

"We want them to discover the great opportunities we have in North Dakota," Ralston Howe said. She said there are a lot of opportunities North Dakota has with the OLI office.

"We have been recognized at the national level recently for being proactive in this effort," Ralston Howe said. "We have caught the attention of lead policy advisors in the White House and other federal agencies for the work that we're doing."

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