ND communities look to the future, revitalization

Published: Sep. 5, 2019 at 9:32 PM CDT
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Recruiting businesses and people to work in North Dakota is something many cities across the state are dealing with.

Community leaders in North Dakota met with three HGTV personalities at the Rural Developers’ Assembly hosted by the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. The goal, to share their experience of revitalizing a community.

Jim and Mallorie Rasberry and Josh Nowell are community developers from Laurel, Mississippi, a city with just over 18,000 people.

"Communities that used to be thriving from an economic standpoint and a community standpoint, are starting to have a lot of challenges," said Jim Rasberry, community developer.

Mandan was the focus of their visit, but the team visited other small communities in the state. Rasberry says with rural America, there seems to be a trend.

"A lot of communities across North Dakota are struggling from a standpoint of being able to recruit businesses that can compete in today's workforce," said Rasberry.

Rasberry says communities are now competing with Amazon, Walmart, and the "big box" stores when it comes to price.

"So it's a matter of experience, business owners and entrepreneurs have to find a way to bring people in to an experience and provide something that online retail cannot," he added.

The Business Development and Communications Director for the City of Mandan agrees.

"Purchasing properties with a small energetic group and rehabbing the upper stories for loft apartments, which is something I think our younger population is really looking for," said Mandan's business development and communications director, Ellen Huber.

She says the city wants to attract the younger generation that's that's growing in the state.

"One of the things that I would like to do is harness the enthusiasm of some of our new young business owners and really look to see on how they can form an alliance," said Huber.

Huber says the goal, to collaborate with surrounding business and maintain frequent events that will make people want to come back again.

Huber says it works closely with the Mandan Progress Organization, and BisMan Chamber EDC, and encourages those with a business to affiliate with something, to achieve their goals.