Advantage: North Dakota february 2020

We hope you enjoy Advantage: North Dakota, a newsletter highlighting the economic development activities and funding opportunities in the state. It is a joint publication of Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

Lightning Round

1. The North Dakota Film and Instagram Partnership Program was launched in January 2020 to increase awareness of North Dakota through creative and authentic storytelling. This inaugural, competitive-pitched grant will allow storytellers to share their visions for showcasing North Dakota’s healthy and vibrant communities.

2. The 2020 Tourism Main Street Expansion Grant Program supports new or expanding businesses that provide an improved visitor experience, with an emphasis on attracting visitors to a city or town’s downtown. It will fund new projects that attract visitors from outside the state for at least one overnight stay.

3. Bank of North Dakota announced two loan programs that address the impacts of extreme weather conditions farmers and ranchers faced in 2019: the Ag Disaster Relief Loan and Livestock Feed Loan. Both are accessed through the local lender. Applications are accepted through June 30, 2020.

4. The BND Infrastructure Loan Fund is accepting applications through March 12, 2020. The loan may be used for new construction, repair and replacement of water or wastewater treatment plants; sewer, storm sewer and water lines; transportation infrastructure; or other infrastructure needs.

Flex PACE Loan is a Popular Business Loan Option

If you are a business owner or starting a business and want to lower your interest rate, visit with your local lender about accessing Bank of North Dakota’s Flex PACE Loan. It can buy down the interest rate up to 5% with the borrower paying a minimum of 1%. The community must also contribute to the buydown through direct cash, loans, equity, investments, land, property or infrastructure, or any combination of these. The funds may come from a local development corporation, contributions, community funds or other community sources in the form of a grant or loan.

Perspectives: A Culture and an Attitude of Winning

Pat Bertagnolli

North Dakota has an estimated 30,000 jobs to fill and we are competing against the entire USA for labor. To fill these jobs, I find myself motivated by the NDSU Bison football team as a platform to duplicate. Eight national titles in a 9-year span, that’s impressive! To win, it takes a great playbook, great mentoring, great coaching and a profound understanding of their competition. They have instilled a culture and an attitude of winning. They have a deep bench of great players who are drawn to their organization because they want to be part of something great. From a performance standpoint, it takes sportsmanship, being an example, and a level of professionalism that naturally brings a community together to support its purpose. Their recruiting strategy is brilliant!

As a progressive thinker and a representative of Watford City, I ask myself, do we have a culture and an attitude of winning? Do people want to be a part of our community? Do we have a great playbook? Great mentoring? Fortunately, those questions can be answered favorably. However, having open positions in our community, there is opportunity to advance. How do we increase the demand, to draft more workers and families to our community? The answer, in part, is to have a purpose beyond ourselves.

In Watford City, we are focusing on community integration with retention in mind. Our overall objective is to enhance the experience of our workforce. Being direct, we want our workforce to have such a great experience that we impact retention and develop them to be great representatives and recruiters. Not just for their industry, but for all the amazing opportunities we have in our community and across the great state of North Dakota. Teachers, truck drivers, nurses – you name it, we got it! We’re all in this together.

Let’s talk about our developing playbook. A few years ago, through the McKenzie County Petroleum Skills Advisory group, I was introduced to a few high school staff members. Now, I’m on a first name basis with the administration, teachers, coaches and many of the students. All of this has been life-changing for me. In a business life cycle, my favorite stage is growth. I have great news! I have discovered the never-ending growth phase! It’s called a collaborative relationship with our schools and students!

I want to tell you about our ambassador program. We started with four high school students to help educate and integrate our workforce into our community. Because of their purpose-driven influence, we now have 20 high school ambassadors. These students get in front of our workforce and explain how they integrate new students into our schools, to include family tours, if desired. They talk about our community partners: Williston State College has a free tuition program for students graduating from our school, a benefit unknown to many. They also talk about the University of Mary and the scholarship opportunities they have for members of our workforce to enhance their knowledge, skills and abilities. They educate about the SADD program – Students against Destructive Decisions - to help keep our students on the path to success. They talk about all the school activities and how important it is to have family, friends and neighbors present at these activities. It’s inspiring for me to watch the dynamic change in the room when our workforce learns that from a community standpoint, it is they, who are the family, friends and neighbors.

Comments from our workforce include, “I like that we are partnering with the school.” They also said, “We have opportunity to be better representatives of what we do for our careers.”

McKenzie County’s largest employer, Delta Constructors, recently had an ambassador presentation. HSE Manager Josh Lonas said, “The ambassadors are impressive – they gave our workforce a morale boost.” Josh also stated, “We will help to do our part to make the community’s vision and mission a reality.” Delta has plans to hire 150 more employees this year. Our community playbook and partnership will support their hiring initiatives.

I recently had 12 Watford City High School students attend the Greater North Dakota Chamber CEO roundtable event with me in Minot, North Dakota. They demonstrated their workforce presentation for the audience. It was amazing! In addition, they participated on a Gen Z panel with students from Minot High School. On this panel, it was validated that they all want an incentive for being involved with various activities. Our ambassadors took the opportunity to define “incentive.” To help our community with workforce recruiting and retention is an incentive. To be able to participate in the CEO roundtable and influence North Dakota leaders is an incentive. Priceless.

In summary, as we fine-tune our playbook, promoting an attitude and culture of winning, one thing is for certain – our students want in the game and they want to be part of the solution. Our students are having a great experience and they are favorably changing the way our workforce perceives our communities, schools and our state. We have great jobs in North Dakota which is a great position for us to be in. To fill those jobs will require full integration of our communities, industries and schools. In my opinion, once we get that alignment right, together we will take home the title for team North Dakota. We are on our way.

Pat Bertagnolli is the Rough Rider Center and Community Enhancement Director in Watford City, ND. He can be reached at pbertagnolli@nd.gov.

Advantage: North Dakota is a joint economic development newsletter between Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Commerce.
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Bank of North Dakota