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NORTHERN PLAINS STATISTICS – AN INTRODUCTION

A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the old saw anyway.  I think a good example that was lacking a picture which would have made the  story more understandable appeared in a local paper recently.  I am talking about the proposal by the  Grand Forks school district to increase property taxes by 25%.  This is after every school in the state had received a substantial increase in state aid by the legislature.

After all those words contained in the article I believe the majority of the readers still were not sure what the school boards rational was. I  believe that a few graphs and charts along with some well written commentary would have provided that explanation.

It has been several months since my statistical articles have appeared in the paper.  I have been convinced by many of my readers that there is a demand for the material I was presenting to them, and much more. They have told me that the data I provided often made local issues much clearer.

This time besides the Grand Forks and North Dakota statistics I will present to you in the paper there will be much more. For instance, you will see data that demonstrates  the economics of UND to Grand Forks. Further, you will see the difference between the money spent by one of the liberal arts departments and the money spent by a more technical program like aviation. I will show you the importance of certain research programs that are more of a business such as the EERC to the economy of Grand Forks.

The same too with programs such as the medical school, not just the doctors, but all the programs including their new masters of public health.

Within the health venue portion of the economy of Grand Forks I will try to demonstrate how being a regional medical center creates substantial  economic growth here, both through Altru and also through the many specialized clinics.

Of course the economy of North Dakota and northwest Minnesota is built on private business, and that will be a major portion of my writing. Much of that  will be on agriculture. Within the Red River Valley the story of American Crystal is a special story in itself.  Crystal presence has created many related stories such as some of the newest high tech applications and innovations in the world.Agriculture remains one of the few true freely competitive industries that has allowed technology to consistently lower the cost of its product (the price of food-at least on a relative basis.

North Dakota and the Minnesota portion of the Red River Valley have been an important part of that. In particular I am thinking of firms such as Concord, the air seeder plant in Valley City now part of John Deere. Also, Amity Technologies and the eastern North Dakota company Phoenix Technologies whose  harnesses run John Deere equipment . As well, there are many other smaller manufacturing plants.

Then, too, all those private northwestern Minnesota companies need to be covered.  What makes that little area home to MattTracks, Central Boiler, and of course those major companies of Arctic Cat and Polaris. Then totally unrelated to anything else Thief River Falls becomes home to a major computer supply company, Digikey. Will statistics give us the answer why here? Probably not alone, but they will show us how important these things are.

Finally, the report while certainly having an extensive Grand Forks emphasis will be more than just that. As in my previous writing there will be data on North Dakota, but there will be more than just the previous reports. For example, some are saying North Dakota’s retirement account can not be sustained. Others, particularly those who will benefit from the account say it is sound. We will examine the question and I will present data for you to decide. We will also more extensively examine Minnesota, particularly northwest Minnesota. Finally, we cannot cover economics in this area any more without demonstrating what the new technology of fracking has done to North Dakota. Properly reported statistical tables or graphs will be like watching an atomic bomb explode. Even those who don’t want this oil business in North Dakota can not help but be impressed when looking at a graph that shows North Dakota going from sixth, a distance sixth, in U.S. oil production to second, a still rapidly climbing second, especially in this short time.

Statistics and what they mean are so much more than numbers and that is where I will try and make my commentary add to these articles. For example, what does all that wealth, rapidly acquired wealth, mean to North Dakota economically, socially and culturally?

I hope you find these reports helpful and interesting. It is only possible because of advertising. I ask that you support those advertisers, and I hope you will tell them how much you appreciate their making this possible.

 

Ralph Kingsbury,

Kingsbury Economics