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Gov. Doug Burgum visited the City of Minot on Oct. 22 as part of his statewide travels to discuss his Main Street Initiative and other local issues important to Minot.
After a stakeholder meeting in the morning, Burgum joined City of Minot officials, local legislators, economic development experts, and a host of others on a walking tour of downtown Minot. During the tour, Burgum saw firsthand the changes made to downtown during the three-year, $29 million Downtown Infrastructure Improvement Project that was supported by federal grants. The project replaced nearly century old water, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer infrastructure and constructed new streets and sidewalks throughout 26 blocks of Minot’s downtown.
During the walking tour, the group stopped at a building located at the intersection of Central Avenue and First Street SE. The building is under renovation as part of a project to create a location that will include a restaurant and bar, along with other amenities.
The governor reinforced his belief that communities benefit when public investment in infrastructure is followed by private investment in new businesses that take advantage of existing infrastructure rather than expanding a city’s existing footprint.
A roundtable discussion was held at the Central Campus Theater with a host of local officials joining the panel, along with Central Campus student Drew Feist. Others on the panel included Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma, City Manager Tom Barry, Minot Public Schools Supt. Mark Vollmer, Minot State University President Steve Shirley, developer Jessica Ackerman, downtown business owner Margie Boltan, Lyndsay Ulrickson with Souris Basin Planning Council, Roger Reich of the Minot Downtown Business and Professional Association, and Tim Mihalick, the project manager of a stakeholders committee on economic development initiatives.
During the discussion, Burgum pointed out that Job Service North Dakota statistics show 1,100 job openings in the Minot area. “One of the things that’s challenging our state more than any other topic is the fact that we don’t have enough workers to fill the jobs we have,” the governor said.
Other topics during the discussion included the challenges faced by the K-12 education system, with Vollmer pointing out that many students today are non-traditional learners, which may require more emphasis on skills like communication, management, and work ethic.
Burgum is visiting dozens of cities across North Dakota to hold community discussions and gather information to help cities evaluate themselves and identify methods to become more vibrant, healthy communities.
The Governor’s Main Street Initiative focuses on using existing infrastructure to its fullest potential, and was built on the foundation of respect for the past, gratitude for the present, and inspiration for the future, according to the governor’s office. The program’s three pillars of economic success include a skilled workforce, smart, efficient infrastructure, and healthy, vibrant communities.