North Dakota’s Steady Growth

Al Anderson, Commissioner of the North Dakota Department of CommerceSuccess doesn’t just happen by chance. As the Commerce Commissioner, I have the unique opportunity to compare our state’s amazing creation of new growth and prosperity with the past.

During my short tenure as a state employee, having spent nearly 30 years of my life in the private sector, I have realized the success in our state is due to the hard work, and the dedication of our people and businesses.

In North Dakota, we care about the success of not only ourselves, but that of our state as well.

Our leaders at both the state and local level have worked hard to ensure we have a business climate that promotes a strong and diverse economy. As we enter 2013, I can say no other state in the nation is as financially sound as ours. At a time when a majority of the country is recovering from difficult economic times, North Dakota stands as a symbol of optimism. We have over 20,000 available jobs in high-demand areas such as energy, healthcare, technology, manufacturing and tourism. These opportunities are helping young people build their future in our state, and offering jobs for people from other areas in our country not as fortunate.

Since 2000, North Dakota has added over 65,500 new jobs, while the nation has lost jobs. The American economy grew at a pace of 2.9 percent last year, while North Dakota’s economy increased by 7.1 percent, the strongest growth in the nation.

We are diligent and conservative people, and these qualities have helped our governments, financial institutions, businesses and individuals avoid the risky economic schemes that are crippling our national economy.

Everyone is aware of our significant energy growth but our other large industries (technology based businesses, advanced manufacturing, value added agriculture and tourism) are also doing well.

North Dakota’s technology sector has gained national recognition and our information technology subsector job growth has been triple that of the nation. Microsoft and Amazon have both expanded in our state. Amazon added a 30,000-square-foot facility that will expand their customer service operations in Grand Forks and create 200 full-time jobs, plus additional seasonal jobs. Microsoft’s Fargo campus is one of the larger Microsoft locations worldwide, and their three buildings house over 1,500 employees, vendors and contingent staff.

Manufacturing also continues to grow in North Dakota, where most of the country has reported severe declines. One example is the major expansion by Caterpillar in West Fargo. Construction has started on a $50 million project that will create about 250 new jobs during the next three years, nearly doubling the plant’s current workforce. Caterpillar officials told us that North Dakota’s pro-business climate was a major factor in their decision to expand in West Fargo. John Deere Electronic Services recently broke ground on a $22 million expansion project that will include 90,000 additional square feet and an expanded workforce.

Cargill recently started a $50-million expansion project in West Fargo and Monsanto has completed a $17.5 million expansion that has created a number of new jobs in the same area.

Tourism is another area that continues to drive North Dakota’s economy as the third largest contributor to gross state product. The tourism industry growth is visible by looking at the number of new hotels constructed across the state. In the past two years, 35 new hotels have opened, adding 3,024 sleeping rooms in 15 communities. Another 43 hotels are under development and are expected to add another 3,950 rooms.

Whether in tourism, agriculture, energy, manufacturing or technology, North Dakota is moving forward. Our people and our businesses will continue to work hard and bring the dedication needed to make sure our continued state success doesn’t happen by chance.

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