Gov. Doug Burgum today announced proposed investments in community development to help cities attract and retain workforce as he kicked off the 2022 Main Street ND Summit with a keynote address at the Bismarck Event Center.
The Energizing Our Communities plan announced by Burgum includes multiple proposals totaling over $20 million that will be brought to the state legislature for consideration next year.
“This plan will energize our towns, cities and counties as they work to enhance smart, efficient infrastructure, create healthy, vibrant communities and diversify the economy – all to attract new residents to North Dakota and help retain our youth and existing workforce,” Burgum said. “Over the next two months, we will work with legislators to refine these and other proposals to address workforce challenges across every industry in our state.”
The Energizing Our Communities plan includes:
- $10 million for a Rural Revitalization and Redevelopment Grant Program to promote in-fill development in cities with 5,000 people or less, especially in blighted areas hit hard by population and business loss.
- Encouraging investment in city centers through Renaissance Zone 2.0, which will build on the 23 years of success of the existing Renaissance Zone Program by allowing communities and projects to rejoin the program and expanding the benefit and renewal periods. Renaissance Zones offer income and property tax incentives to taxpayers for engaging in qualifying zone projects that improve properties and build tax base.
- $5 million for a Rural Workforce Housing Program as recommended by regional planning councils to increase workforce housing options through the reuse of blighted infrastructure with private sector collaboration. Grants would be used to acquire and transform land into market-ready parcels.
- $5 million for Local Parks and Recreation Grants, building off the success of the existing Park District Facility Renovation Grant and expanding it to make counties and tribal partners also eligible for the matching grants.
- $800,000 to expand the Partners in Planning and Vibrancy Grants.
In addition to the proposals, Burgum provided a comprehensive overview on the positive impacts of the Main Street Initiative on North Dakota’s communities and residents, including Partners in Planning grants awarded to 20 communities to help them craft plans to attract workforce, create community spaces and develop recreational options. In 2022 alone, the Governor’s Office and Department of Commerce have traveled to 25 communities to learn about their challenges and share resources available through state and federal partners.
“The Main Street Initiative has been instrumental in creating vibrant communities that will advance the state’s ability to attract and retain a talented workforce,” Burgum said. “From utilizing existing infrastructure for multi-use developments to creating public spaces for art, events and gatherings, the influence of the Main Street Initiative and the dedication of its team can be seen across the state in communities large and small.”
Nearly 900 community leaders, business owners, city planners, economic development officials and others registered for the two-day interactive summit, which continues Wednesday. This year’s theme, “Inspiring Community-Driven Workforce,” addresses the importance of community vibrancy for all generations by highlighting how community assets are critical to economic resiliency and workforce attraction and retention across North Dakota.
The summit serves as a forum for information on the community planning principles behind the pillars of Burgum’s Main Street Initiative: a 21st century workforce; smart, efficient infrastructure; healthy, vibrant communities; and economic diversification. Attendees have the opportunity to hear from a variety of renowned keynote speakers and partake in engaging breakout sessions that provide the tools and resources to support community volunteers, local champions, business owners and elected leaders at both the local and state level as they work together to create unique communities to attract a talented workforce.
The agenda and registration for the 2022 Main Street ND Summit can be found at msnd.link/summit-2022.