Barry Wilfahrt, Grand Forks, ND. letters: Northern valley must learn to ride the waveLetter by Barry Wilfahrt, president of the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks and a steering committee member of North Valley/New Vision 360. He writes about external forces and their impact on communities.
By: Barry Wilfahrt, Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — Regional and external forces will have even more impact on our communities than in the past.
Consider some of the economic engines and factors in the northern valley:
• Agriculture is more connected to the world economy than ever before.
• Our communities have an expanding role as a regional health care center.
• Some 110 northern valley businesses are doing business in western North Dakota, and that number almost certainly will continue to grow.
• We are the state and region’s leader in post-secondary education and are influenced more and more by federal and state government funding policy.
• Canadian trade accounts for most of the motel nights in Grand Forks and 20 percent to more than 50 percent of retail sales for local businesses.
• With unemployment at an all-time low, we will be looking outside our communities to new Americans and immigrants to fill our many job openings.
We will continue to have less ability to control our own destiny. This will require a new regionalism and a partnership approach by all organizations in the years to come.
Through this collaboration, we can strategically position our community — and more important, the region — for growth, prosperity and the best possible quality of life.
Wilfahrt is president of the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks and a steering committee member of North Valley/New Vision 360.
North Valley/New Vision 360 is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, and Region, the Chamber and the cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, with funding by the Knight Foundation.
It’s a regionwide community visioning and engagement project, and Wilfahrt wrote this letter as part of that effort.
Visit engagetheforks.com for more information.