And the year is over. Permit totals are just over $212 million dollars for 2013. In the ten year listing of dollar amounts the next closest year was 2006 and that was just over $156,500,000. Even allowing for inflation, which I haven’t calculated as yet, this has to be a record. I think it is just the next year, 2007, that the Great Recession begin. That year the Grand Forks totals were just over $94 million and dropped to less than $82 million in 2010.

See the chart on this posting for those 10 year totals. Grand Forks does jump around quite a bit over these past 10 years. As I recall this really is not the way Grand Forks does it. Unless that has changed, not that there might not be some slight ups and downs, I believe this might be another indication that Grand Forks is on a true growth binge.

How much? How rapidly? How sustained? There are, I believe, a lot of ifs in those questions. It depends to some degree on Grand Forks continued role in the Bakken development. I have written before that Grand Forks is the eastern city that understands how it is, and continue to be, tied to the Bakken. Some of it is because of things that happened 100 year ago such as locating the University of North Dakota AND THE SCHOOL OF MINES in Grand Forks. Of course those are just words, but then it is how the leadership of UND went after that role by establishing the right engineering programs and hitching their wagon to the right oil development leadership. It does make a difference who you place in leadership positions.

In the same vein, but at a different level, it has made a significant difference to Grand Forks that the EERC (Energy and Environmental Research Center) is located here, and if there is an example of the relationship between public education and private business it is the EERC. If North Dakota is serious about growing our state the best thing they can do is bring Dr. Gerry Groenwald (and others he would want with him) into state government and give him enough money to pursue firms he selects to bring to North Dakota.

Instead of passing the money around the state so each city, or school, or other functionary gets theirs, why doesn’t the executive and legislative branches go with proven winners? Instead we have all these so-called Centers of Excellences and the most we seem to have from them is controversy, again and again. If there are winners in Fargo, or even Jamestown, well then use them, but if not don’t just hand something to them.

Another thing that I don’t believe North Dakota, and especially Grand Forks, appreciates is the role the medical school has played to the state and this city. Some is as simple and direct as federal money and a great deal of state money bringing high paying salaried positions here. Not only those people, but with the multiplier effect, and that is real if not as large as some make it to be, it is making a difference to this city and this state.

Also, after several and too long in being corrected mis-steps, the millions of tax dollars spent on promoting attracting conventions, meetings, etc to this city it is working, and that is another story for another time.

Finally, and to me, most important, has been the role private enterprise has played over the settlement of the prairies. It has been the reason for Grand Forks, agriculture in particular. Today I believe Grand Forks is Simplots largest processing facility. Watch those potato trucks roll into that plant all day long, day after day, after day. There may not be a lot of high paying jobs at the factory, but there is a lot of money that comes to this area because of the potato industry.

Then of course there has been the sugar industry. You may have an opinion about the sugar market, but it is as it is and it has made a huge difference to the Red River Valley because of some very far sighted and daring individuals. Enough said for now, but there is not one person in the valley, including college teachers who are not better off because American Crystal is here.

Again there is the multiplier effect from agriculture. All the manufacturing firms. All the crop protection firms. All the trucks and tractors sold in the valley.

This, some may think, is a long way off the Grand Forks Metro building report, but without all of this and more there would be no building report. There would be no reason for building, and it is a long way from the Buffalo Commons.

More, much more, to come.


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