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DL residents rejected a 1% increase in the food/lodging tax yesterday...proponets of the increase wanted to use the $$$ money for economic development, by increasing promotion of toursim here.

I'm getting the impression that the only economic development pushed here is the tourism industry...I'm not seeing any creation of good jobs or businesses that will bring families to the area, other than small, service based stuff...I would like to see a permanent economic base Vs. putting all the eggs in the Lake & high water basket...do they see it will dry out soon???

Hopefully someone can enlighten me here.
 

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I think that Devils Lake has two basic choices in economic development. One is tourism and the other is agri-business. Neither of them looks very bright. North Dakota has lost farms for 50 years. The state barely increased its population at all between 1990 and 2000. Most of its counties lost population. It had the lowest growth in the country.

Given these trends, it would be very rare for an entrepreneur to attempt to locate a business in DL that does not serve the existing population in and around Devils Lake or is not in one of the sectors mentioned above. One, there is no labor force left out in the rural areas to work at a major new business. All the young folks have moved away. And, there are less farmsteads out there producing young people than there used to be. No one is going to build a plant and hope people are going to move to DL to take those jobs. They have to rely on the existing commuter area around Devils Lake. Most of those who remain out in the hinterland are too old to drive 50 miles into DL for a manufacturing job. The second reason is that Devils Lake is way off the I-29 corridor. If any serious non-agricultural manufacturing base is going to be developed, it is going to be in Grand Forks or Fargo. The closer to the Twin Cities and the eastern markets, the better it is for that business.

Now, we all know where agri-business is these days. Do you want to invest heavily in that area?

That pretty much leaves tourism.

Devils Lake is even behind the eight-ball in that regard. Tourism is hunting, fishing, gambling, and providing hotels and restaurants for folks on there way to somewhere else.

Fishing is on the upswing right now because of the doubling of the size of the lake. Even, if it drops back in size, there will still be some pretty good fishing. But, how far will be come from to fish there? Will DL draw many Minnesotans or people from the large population centers to the east? Not likely. They have 10,000 similar opportunities much closer.

Gambling adds a little to the economy on the reservation and in town - but not much. But, everybody has gambling now. So, it only draws people from within a 100 miles or so. And, there are not many of those folks.

Hunting is a 30 to 45 day deal. But, that is really a fragile industry at this point. Sure, the duck hunting is good in the region now. But, that could change rapidly with a few dry years. And, the goose hunting is only a shadow of what it used to be. It is unlikely that it will get better in our lifetime. The migration pattern has basically moved west or the area is skipped over when the birds leave Canada.

DL might be a stopping over point for people headed to the Peace Garden, Canada, Glacier Park, or the west coast. But, how many of those folks are there. A lot of people fly these days.

Hunting and fishing might be the only thing going in the area. I guess if I was the economic development director in DL, those sectors would get my attention.
 

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I am proud to say I grew up in North Dakota, but the sad fact of the matter is that ND is in the middle of nowhere. Too far east of the mountains and too far north of moderate temperatures. No ocean is in sight.

Fine. Let others go where they want and let the hardy stay here. But:

Overall, tourism is not going to work. ND is dead last in Tourism dollars. If you take away fishing and hunting you are left with Medora and the Peace Gardens. Sorry, but these are stop over spots for travelers heading somewhere else - rarely are they primary destinations.

From a manufacturing perspective, North Dakota is too far from population centers, no river transport, and rail is becoming more difficult not easier. ND is simply too far from other manufacturing centers to supply or be supplied product cost effectively. A few companies (non-agricultural) eek out an existence in ND.

Intellectual products (ie. software) could certainly be developed and sold from ND without any issues, but many individuals that are involved with this technology find living somewhere else too appealing and leave ND. Recruiting individuals from other parts of the country is actually relatively tough in the Twin Cities, even more difficult in Fargo, nearly impossible to Mott, Hazen, others; unless they have family ties.

Once people get to ND they often stay - the trick is getting them to even visit.

I have seen two service centers open up in Minot, ND, in the past five years that probably employ about 1,000 people combined. Minot officials worked hard recruiting First Bank and MLT vacations to their city. Jobs pay OK. People in Minot will work for quite a bit less than someone in the Twin Cities.

Small ND communities and the state of ND should be able to decide if these computer, phone, electronic based companies are what is needed for jobs in ND. Set up the infrastructure to support them and then go out and lobby, recruit, beg for companies to relocate into ND. This has worked to a certain extent in South Dakota. Rural states offering low/no state income tax, low corporate taxes, and a highly educated work force (2 moderate wages) and companies like Citibank that ran to SD will come to ND and employ 100s if not 1000s.

In this age of internet, phone, electronics, ND is no further from a population center than if you lived in downtown NY.

Plan and be aggressive and ND can survive and possibly grow. ND leaders must have vision to grow, not simply consolidate and survive.
 

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For a very good explanation about what is happening in small town North Dakota go to the Bismarck Tribune and read the 5 part series Mott:Back Against the Wall, in the Special Reports section. http://www.bismarcktribune.com/series/mott/index.html

It helps a person understand why these small town people fight so hard to keep what they now have. It also shows how difficult it is to recruit a business to anywhere in ND except for Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, or Bismarck. It's like Gateway having to relocate their corportate offices to San Diego to be able to attract the type of people they want to hire. It's tough our there and going to get tougher.
 

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Just a note concerning the Bismarck Tribune series about Mott... The series raised the ire of nearly everyone in Mott. The reaction was so bad, in fact, that several members of the Bismarck Tribune management staff held a community meeting in Mott. So, anyone reading the series might want to take it with a grain of salt.

The "reporter"who wrote the story lived in Mott as a child, and is the (niece?) of the people who started the first large-scale commercial hunting operation in Hettinger County. With that in mind, might the series be just a bit self-serving?
 

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Good call, MResner. Lauren Donovan's articles are consistently skewed toward economic development and commercialization of hunting.
 

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Thanks for the additional information. I was not aware of any of this when I read the articles.

I read these when they were printed and I thought the general story could fit almost any small town in ND. I don't suppose any city would have been very happy if they had been portrayed in this light but as the saying goes, "the truth hurts."
 

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I can see where the articles on Mott would upset some folks in town. Nobody likes to be connected with a story about decline and failure. But, the article seems to tell the truth. I guess the truth hurts. There was nothing malicious about the article as I read it. The reporter, who knows the town, used it as a model of what is happening in many small towns in North Dakota. I have nothing but admiration for the folks in town who have tried and sometimes failed at economic development efforts. At least they have tried.

It was interesting to see the name of a guy in one of the articles who sort of reluctently gave us permission to hunt on some of his land for about an hour on the Saturday after Thanksgiving last fall. (He had thousands of acres posted and nobody was out hunting that day.) Ironically, he lives on Millionaire Avenue. What does that say?
 
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prairie hunter said:
In this age of internet, phone, electronics, ND is no further from a population center than if you lived in downtown NY.

:lol: :lol: I've read some hyperbole in my life but that's an impressive statement. The rub with your thinking is if you're on the internet in ND you're either in a small town or in the middle of no-where. If you're in Manhattan on the interent, you have with in walking distance or short subway ride, Soho, China town, Times Square, Central Park, amazing restaurants, museums, plays, musicals. . . basically the most fabulous city in the world.

I'm a very tolerant person, in terms of the weather, I lived in the Fargo Moorhead area for two years but, even there it was small, cold, windy, missing culture. It's not for everyone, I wish I could in ND but the only reason would be for October and the first two weeks of November.
 
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