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Bank of North Dakota approved for a workforce housing pilot program for smaller communities

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved an initiative to support workforce housing.

The Rural Workforce Initiative to Support Rural Housing — "R-WISH" — is a pilot program though the Bank of North Dakota to help support communities of 20,000 or less with building market-rate housing for workforce, where a company is locating or expanding. The program will use Bank of North Dakota capital to help communities provide housing for those workers.

"We have the Grafton example, where Marvin Windows is wanting to expand significantly," Bank Chief Development Officer Kelvin Hullet told the Industrial Commission. "And look at Ellendale, which now has the Applied Digital development going on, which is over a $1 billion investment and 50 permanent jobs."

Hullet said housing is an issue in those communities.

"Construction costs in these communities are very similar to Bismarck or Fargo," Hullet said. "But we don't have the rent capability or history that we see in those communities. So how do we bridge that gap?"

The Industrial Commission approved $10 million for the pilot program. Under it, cities of less than 20,000 population could access up to $3.5 million for those housing needs.

"THis is really a rifle shot on the housing issue," Hullet said. "We're really trying to address a specific issue."

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