Group seeks to address economic impacts of COVID-19 on North Dakota

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many sectors of local economy.

Wednesday, city leaders and business owners in Linton picked up their pens and notepads to map out a plan with the Lewis & Clark Development Group as their community continues to navigate the pandemic a year and a half later.

“Local grocery stores did well. Local restaurants, not so much because they had to close down. So, what went on? What programs are good? What programs are bad?” asked Brent Ekstrom, executive director of Lewis & Clark Development Group.

The group is sorting through the fallout from when their city shut down.

“Here’s the big question, ‘Did you have anyone from Bismarck, Mandan, even Jamestown, come out looking for toilet paper?’” asked Jason Matthews, president of JM Strategies.

North Dakotans have felt the economic impact, but it hasn’t been consistent across the board.

“I was fortunate enough that my wife works and has a pretty good job. So, we were able to get by maybe even without the PPP. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if we both ran that business together and had no income for five weeks,” said Dean Bosch, owner of Green Lantern Lounge.

Some say they’ve seen positive changes.

“Those types of jobs that have the ability to work from home is a draw to a rural community because they don’t want to live in Minneapolises and Denvers and those places. I think that’s what we’re seeing. We are seeing people that are tired of that and want to move here,” said Dan Weber, retired from Farm Service Agency.

These community leaders are planning for the future.

“All the counties have an emergency resiliency plan that they have in place. Very little was on pandemics,” said Ekstrom.

Those in Linton say staffing, childcare, and streamlined communication are areas that can improve.

The Lewis & Clark Development group will take the findings from areas across the state to make economic strategies for cities and counties. The next discussion will be held on November 4th in Washburn.

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