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Research Corridor delivers as Sen. Dorgan said it would

Once a dream, the Research Corridor is now real. This remarkable story reported by The Forum just before Christmas deserves special notice. I've followed the progress of the Red River Valley Research Corridor since Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., firs...

Mathern

Once a dream, the Research Corridor is now real. This remarkable story reported by The Forum just before Christmas deserves special notice.

I've followed the progress of the Red River Valley Research Corridor since Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., first proposed it five years ago. He said his goal was to use the two major universities in North Dakota as anchors to create a research corridor and build a world-class, research-based economy in North Dakota. There are many people involved in these efforts who have exhibited leadership and who deserve great credit.

Universities are first and foremost about learning. They can also be major research centers that support learning and development of cultural opportunities, as well as attract businesses and industries to locate around high-tech research.

The news story concerned an economic impact study completed by North Dakota State University Professor Larry Leistritz. The report documents the economic impact and jobs that have been created as a result of Sen. Dorgan's vision. What he has accomplished in five short years in building that research corridor is amazing.

Professor Leistritz's study estimates the total economic impact of the corridor has been $759 million while directly creating 2,810 jobs. A large number of them are high-skilled jobs that pay an average of $56,000 a year. Leistritz says there are another 7,864 jobs indirectly supported by the research corridor.

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This progress is particularly important as we figure out how to keep our college graduates in North Dakota. Our students are some of the most talented in the world. Too often the search for a fulfilling career after graduation leads them out of state.

The corridor includes more than $300 million in funding that Dorgan secured to establish research centers of excellence at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. The funding supports the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering at NDSU and the new National Center for Hydrogen Technology at UND.

He's also created centers for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle research and funding for the biosciences that support deep brain research at UND. The microtechnology and nanotechnology work at NDSU convinced Alien Technology, a California firm, to locate its new manufacturing plant in Fargo.

While UND and NDSU have been the anchors, Sen. Dorgan has included other regions of the state in this activity. He has helped bring new projects to Wahpeton, Minot, Dickinson, Bismarck and other cities. For example, the research corridor effort includes assistance to create the National Energy Technology Training Program at Bismarck State College.

In addition, Dorgan is working to create an energy corridor in western North Dakota modeled on the research corridor concept.

The bottom line is that these exciting things are happening in North Dakota because of Sen. Dorgan's strategy and effort. He conceived the research corridor and has done the heavy lifting to get funding to create these world-class centers and attract new jobs and new investment to our state.

We need to take note. This strategy provides a road map for adding economic strength to North Dakota that works. It is exciting to finally see an economic impact study that shines a light on something positive for our state.

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Mathern, D-Fargo, has served District 11 in the N.D. Senate since 1986. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee.

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