Commerce center building project on hold
A project to build a new “commerce center” near the Bank of North Dakota has been put on hold.
That $17 million building would hold the Departments of Commerce, Housing Finance and Banking and Financial Institutions. It would be paid for through the Bank’s assets.
The 2015 Legislature approved the project. But House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo), who opposed the project, wrote a letter to the Industrial Commission – the Bank’s board of directors – to delay the project. And the Commission asked Bank President Eric Hardmeyer to take another look at the project – and see if costs could be reduced.
"We asked him to go back to the drawing board, go over the project again, and attempt to identify cost-savings in the project, to the best of his ability," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, chairman of the Industrial Commission.
Dalrymple said there is a perception problem with a project like this.
"When general fund agencies are being asked to save 4.05 percent, to go forward (with this project) without any adjustment or considerations may not look right," Dalrymple said. "But it's an opportunity to answer questions, explain exactly how it is being done, and show people we're doing it as frugally as we possibly can."
Hardmeyer says he will put pencil to paper, and see where savings can be found.
"We pressed the hold button," Hardmeyer said. "But now may be a good time to do that, because we're seeing costs actually come down. That may play to our favor."
Hardmeyer says he will also tell the people of North Dakota – it’s a project that makes sense.
"It is bringing agencies together that are engaged in economic development," Hardmeyer said. "Any time you are working together, you get a better product."
Hardmeyer says there’s no definite date to bring the project back before the Industrial Commission for further review.