Dakota Download Governor Burgum's Weekly Update - August 25, 2019

Burgum helps break ground on Aldevron expansion, highlights investment in ND’s technology sector

Gov. Doug Burgum joined local, state and federal officials to help Fargo-based biotechnology company Aldevron break ground on a 189,000-square-foot expansion, highlighting the investment in North Dakota’s technology sector.

“We’ve worked hard to create a business-friendly climate that supports and attracts investment in our growing technology sector, and this expansion by Aldevron sends a strong signal to the rest of the nation and the world that North Dakota is open for business,” Burgum said, noting the recent announcement that Sweden-based global investment fund EQT has entered an agreement to acquire a majority interest in Aldevron.

“We congratulate and thank Aldevron co-founders Michael Chambers and John Ballantyne and their entire team for this major investment, which will bring hundreds of 21st century jobs to our state and strengthen our economy while supporting breakthroughs in life science and improving the well-being of people worldwide.”

Founded in 1998 at North Dakota State University, Aldevron is the leading global supplier of plasmid DNA used in commercial, clinical and research stage gene therapies, as well as proteins, antibodies and mRNA.

The groundbreaking begins a three-phase expansion that will create a 14-acre campus anchored by Aldevron’s $30 million headquarters that opened last year. The first phase will be a two-story, 189,000-square-foot facility that will increase Aldevron’s production capacity up to 10 times its current output.

Once completed, the Fargo campus will have nearly 500,000 square feet and the potential to employ 1,000 people. Aldevron currently employs about 400 people across its global network in Fargo, Madison, Wis., and Freiburg, Germany.

Sanford welcomes attendees at America's Grasslands Conference, highlights land management efforts

Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford welcomed attendees at the fifth biennial America's Grasslands Conference on Wednesday in Bismarck. The event convened ranchers, conservationists, researchers, educators, policy professionals and others to learn more about North Dakota's grasslands and conservation efforts.

"Conservation is a foundational piece of North Dakota’s heritage, something that’s woven into the fabric of our lives and our history," Sanford said. "No one cares more than the people who live here about having clean water, clean air and healthy land, including grasslands. Preserving and nurturing soil is vital to our long-term health and livelihoods."

Sanford noted that North Dakota's top industries have a vested interest in conserving natural resources. Farmers and ranchers depend on healthy grasslands and soils to maintain their nation-leading production of crops like spring wheat, canola and honey. The state's grasslands also benefit the tourism industry, offering open spaces for hunters, hikers and campers.

The conference was hosted by the National Wildlife Federation, North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition and North Dakota State University.

ND refills rainy day fund with strong 2017-19 ending fund balance; 2019-21 biennium begins on high note

Gov. Doug Burgum highlighted recent reports that North Dakota is replenishing its rainy-day Budget Stabilization Fund thanks to a strong finish to the 2017-19 biennium, while also starting the new biennium on a high note with July revenues coming in $42 million above forecast.

“As I said during my State of the State Address in January, fiscal responsibility means more than just balancing the checkbook. Given that our revenues remain largely dependent on commodity prices beyond our control, we must replenish reserves to withstand future economic downturns, protect taxpayers and maintain essential services,” Burgum said. “Now, with a conservative state budget, a robust economy, a healthy rainy-day fund and a better-than-expected start to the new biennium, North Dakota is once again in a strong position for growth.”

The Budget Stabilization Fund was nearly drained to balance the 2015-17 budget, as depressed prices for crude oil and farm commodities created a severe shortfall in state tax revenues.

In his budget recommendation last January, Burgum proposed using a $315 million transfer from oil and gas tax revenues and a projected $312 million ending fund balance to help refill the Budget Stabilization Fund in 2019-21.

Lawmakers didn’t adopt the recommendation, but the 2017-19 biennium ended June 30 with a higher-than-projected ending general fund balance of about $611 million – $261 million more than the legislative estimate. This will result in a transfer to the Budget Stabilization Fund of $546 million, or $261 million more than the legislative estimate. The fund’s current balance is $113.6 million.

By law, an additional $75 million of oil and gas tax revenue could be allocated to the Budget Stabilization Fund this biennium. However, only $67 million will be needed to reach the fund’s statutory cap of $726.5 million, which is 15 percent of the current general fund budget.

On another positive note, July tax revenues were $42.4 million, or 7.6 percent, above the revenue forecast adopted by the Legislature in April, and nearly $114 million, or 23.3 percent, higher than revenues in July 2017, according to the state Office of Management and Budget.

“This is a very positive start to the biennium, but not surprising based on the very conservative forecast adopted by the 2019 Legislature,” OMB Director Joe Morrissette said. “Having the Budget Stabilization Fund refilled is important to ensure the state is well-positioned to weather the next economic downturn and remain in a strong financial position in the years to come.”

Sanford visits EERC's brine extraction and storage test project site

The University of North Dakota's Energy and Environment Research Center operates a brine extraction and storage test (BEST) project in the Bakken region, which Lt. Gov. Sanford visited this week to meet with researchers overseeing the project.

Located at a saltwater disposal facility operated by Nuverra Environmental Solutions, the BEST project is a field-scale demonstration to explore the management of fluids associated with energy production and explore the potential of future storage of carbon dioxide. By treating the brine from oil and gas production, the facility reduces disposable volumes, produces an alternate source of water and creates salable products for use.

Incoming produced water averages 250,000 - 300,000 ppm of total dissolved solids, or 10 times saltier than sea water. After going through EERC’s recycling unit, two streams of water come out: one at 180,000 ppm, which is being researched for potential use as frac water; and one at 500 ppm, similar to mineral drinking water.

Researchers with the EERC expect to complete the BEST project in the next year.

Sanford celebrates opening of remodeled affordable housing units

Lt. Gov. Sanford and other local, state and federal officials joined the developers and residents of The Arbors at McCormick Park, a 186-unit affordable housing facility in Fargo, to celebrate the rehabilitation and renovation of the units. The property has been in operation since the 1970s and was recently purchased by Integra Property Group, a Washington-based organization that also completed the renovation of an affordable housing project in Minot.

In congratulating the developers and residents on the refreshed property, Sanford emphasized the importance of affordable housing to help fill North Dakota's workforce shortage.

"I know first-hand, both as a former mayor of a fast-growing community and as lieutenant governor having held Main Street Initiative listening sessions across the state, that one of the biggest barriers to attracting and retaining workers is often a lack of affordable housing," Sanford said.

The project was supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

Burgum announces featured speakers for Main Street ND Summit

Gov. Doug Burgum announced the featured speakers for the 2019 Main Street ND Summit, Oct. 29-31 at the Bismarck Event Center.

The Main Street ND Summit will bring together local and national community development experts and advocates to share best practices and inspire community leaders, entrepreneurs and students in envisioning North Dakota’s future.

“This summit will provide attendees with access to best practices, resources and networking opportunities, empowering them to immediately apply what they have learned to further local initiatives that will help their communities thrive,” Burgum said.

The three-day interactive summit will serve as a forum for information on the community planning principles behind the three pillars of Burgum’s Main Street Initiative: a skilled workforce; smart, efficient infrastructure; and healthy, vibrant communities. The goal is to help North Dakota compete in a 21st century economy in which rapid technological advancement is changing every job, industry and organization.

The three-day conference will feature national thought leaders including:

  • Gil Penalosa, the founder and chair of the internationally recognized Canadian nonprofit organization 8 80 Cities and chair of World Urban Parks
  • Christopher Zimmerman, vice president for economic development for Smart Growth America and director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design
  • Jana Lynott, senior strategic policy advisor for Livable Communities/Transportation with AARP’s Public Policy Institute
  • Adam Vauthier, executive director at Anaconda (Mont.) Local Development Corp.
  • Jaixai Reineke, a freshman at Brookings High School in South Dakota who has been actively working to share the importance of, and have, the voices of youth heard in her community
  • Kim Huston, author, speaker and president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency (NCEDA) in Bardstown, Ky.

The Main Street ND Summit is hosted by Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Commerce. For additional information on sponsorship opportunities, agenda topics or to reserve your space for the Summit visit: www.MainStreetND.com.

New podcast episode discusses children's behavioral health with clinical psychologist Dr. Stuart Ablon

After delivering his keynote address at the Governor's Summit on Innovative Education, Dr. Stuart Ablon sat down for an interview with Gov. Burgum. Ablon is director of Think:Kids, a program in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor and endowed chair in child and adolescent psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Listen to their conversation on behavioral health at the link below.

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