According to Kyle C. Wanner the director of the N.D. Aeronautics Commission North Dakota airline passenger numbers for April 2014 were 94,720, or an increase of nearly 14 per cent over April 2013. Five of the commercial airports had their best numbers on record this April.

Dickinson continued to be the biggest gainer as the oil patch activity continued moving south. Of course Williston “slowed” to just short of a 30 per cent increase.

Williston and Dickinson are important to follow as their increase demonstrates that the oil increase is still occurring. It and agriculture remain the two important cornerstones of North Dakota’s economy.

To me the interesting comparisons is looking at Fargo with its nearly 23 per cent for April and nearly 14 per cent for the year and comparing that to what is happening in Grand Forks. Minot and Bismarck are more complicated because of the oil expansion and Minot’s rebuilding from flooding.

The real comparison is between Grand Forks and Fargo. For the year the increase is less than 2 per cent for Grand Forks. As I noted above, it is nearly 14 per cent in Fargo. Why such a difference?

We know that Fargo has been growing. We also knew that Grand Forks had started to grow, and while I expected Fargo to continue its larger growth I didn’t expect that kind of difference. I think if Grand Forks does not want be left behind it is important for them to take a serious look at their economy and see what is driving it, or what is not driving it. What can Grand Forks do to increase its economy?

Given what is happening in North Dakota, Grand Forks is not in a position to allow those kinds of differences without looking for the whys. It is time for a serious review of the city’s economy, otherwise it may be the least important “big” town in the state.

The Chamber of Commerce, or the the local and state economic development organizations all look good in a booming economy. On the other hand, when the economy looks like it does in North Dakota on the one hand, and as it does in Grand Forks on the other, well it is time to prove your worth.

 

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