Foreign trade zone push is on
Consider Tom Kenville among those who think a foreign trade zone could help boost business in the region. His West Fargo company, Mid-America Aviation, is working on a deal to manufacture mechanical mine clearing systems for a Swedish company. If...
Consider Tom Kenville among those who think a foreign trade zone could help boost business in the region.
His West Fargo company, Mid-America Aviation, is working on a deal to manufacture mechanical mine clearing systems for a Swedish company.
If U.S. military testing goes well and the deal is sealed, Kenville wants to save money on import duties for parts from Sweden and on exporting the finished product.
He is just one member of the business community who supports a proposed designated foreign trade zone in the Fargo area.
Kenville was one of about 20 people who worked Tuesday to show a representative of the U.S. Commerce Department why Fargo should have such a zone.
The public hearing, conducted at Hector International Airport by Commerce examiner Kathleen Boyce, was another step on Fargo's path toward a foreign trade zone.
"It was good to see the business community and other agencies come to show their support and tell their story about the benefits the foreign trade zone will have for their particular company," said Hector International Airport Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein.
The airport and the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. applied in March to set up a general-purpose foreign trade zone covering about 1,026 acres in Cass County, including parts of Fargo, West Fargo, Casselton and Mapleton.
The land would be in a designated area in or near a U.S. Customs Port of Entry. Hector International Airport has a port of entry, though the zone would also apply to goods imported by land.
Supporters say a foreign trade zone could encourage local manufacturing companies and draw in new ones.
"Naturally, if we had a broader industrial base that would mean more trucking for us," said Ron Martin, East Regional Manager for Midwest Motor Express of Fargo.
The zone would be considered outside U.S. Customs territory, giving companies a break on tariffs on goods.
Customs duties and excise taxes would be applicable only when and if the merchandise enters the United States.
Susan Geib, executive director of the North Dakota Trade Office, said a foreign trade zone is a priority for her group.
Over the past year, the state Trade Office has identified about 400 North Dakota businesses that export, with about 45 percent of them in the Fargo area, Geib said.
"Hopefully, the comments they received will be looked upon favorably," said Dobberstein, who added the zone could be approved by the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone Board within a few months.
Upon approval, companies within the general zone must apply for activation by U.S. Customs.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556