Valley prosperity initiative makes strides in first year

Tammy Miller, CEO of Border States Electric, and Steve Burian, CEO of AE2S, members of the Valley Prosperity Partnership discuss the comprehensive economic development strategy they're working on for the Red River Valley. Key areas of focus are water, workforce and research. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Fargo - A collaborative effort launched more than a year ago that aims to grow prosperity in the region is poised to put plans into action.
That’s the message the Valley Prosperity Partnership will deliver Wednesday to North Dakota legislative and community leaders during a luncheon at the Fargo Holiday Inn.
The partnership, which began in 2012 with a $100,000 investment by William C. Marcil, chairman of Forum Communications Co., is guided by a steering committee of nearly two dozen business and higher education leaders as well as other stakeholders in the Red River Valley.
The group’s efforts have focused on six priorities:

  • Attracting and retaining workers;
  •  Managing water supplies and flood control;
  •  Expanding research opportunities;
  •  Boosting entrepreneurial activity;
  •  Improving infrastructure;
  •  Promoting the region as a great place to live and do business.

The partnership is now moving ahead on the first three priorities, according to Steve Burian, chief executive officer of Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services and co-chairman of the partnership’s steering committee. Addressing those priorities will be helped, he said, with the hiring of a legislative lobbyist who will advocate putting more resources into things like internship programs and two-year training institutions in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Assuring a long-term commitment to increasing investment in building research infrastructure at North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota will also be a Legislative priority, according to VPP officials.
Tammy Miller, CEO of Fargo-based Border States Electric and co-chairwoman of the VPP steering committee, said many businesses are finding it hard to attract talented workers and she said business leaders need to be better at alerting young people to attractive job opportunities here.
“We have a lot of great jobs, good-paying jobs in our communities and a lot of students don’t even know these jobs exist,” Miller said.
She added that when it comes to doing business, worries over flooding in the Fargo area extend far beyond the Red River Valley.
“I’m hearing it from our customers from outside of this community,” she said. “We have customers in Wisconsin, in Denver, in Amarillo, Texas, and Fargo flooding can impact their business,” Miller said.
Major forces behind the Valley Prosperity Partnership include the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. and the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp.
However, the initiative’s goals hold promise for areas far beyond the Red River Valley, according to Marcil.
“This could be a model for the rest of the state,” he said.


What: Valley Prosperity Partnership update
When: noon to 1:40 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Holiday Inn, Fargo

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

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