Red River Valley group: Colleges can help workforceEducation and workforce are among the areas a group of Red River Valley leaders are focusing on to find new economic and social opportunities for the region, representatives of the project said Thursday.
By: Christopher Bjorke, Grand Forks Herald
Education and workforce are among the areas a group of Red River Valley leaders are focusing on to find new economic and social opportunities for the region, representatives of the project said Thursday.
Members of the steering committee for the Valley Prosperity Partnership met in Grand Forks to discuss data gathered for the project, which launched in February. The committee covers business, education, health care and economic development organizations, and its members have been gathering information about the valley.
Chairman Steve Burian, who is the Grand Forks half of the project’s leadership with Chairwoman Tammy Miller of Fargo, said a theme that had developed in discussions so far is building up college enrollments to improve the area’s workforce.
While unemployment is low and economic growth is strong in the region, higher enrollments in its universities and technical colleges would retain high school students who could graduate into jobs that would keep them here.
“Now we have a different dynamic for a while. Why not aggressively pursue that dynamic?” said Burian, CEO of AE2S engineering firm.
The partnership has hired consultant Fourth Economy of Pittsburgh to organize community groups in towns across the Red River Valley and gather ideas that will go into an action plan the partnership expects to finish early next year.
That plan will lay out a list of actions the partnership will pursue over the following four years to build up five areas it has identified as its focus.
Those areas are a stable and growing economy, business health, workforce development, education and research, and strong communities.
“The end product will be a long-term strategic plan for the valley,” said Miller, CEO of Border States Electric.
Committee members met Thursday to hear information from Fourth Economy CEO Richard Overmoyer and discuss priorities.
The partnership began with a $100,000 investment by William C. Marcil, chairman of Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald. Other partners invested $20,000 each toward the project.
Burian and Miller said members’ engagement has been strong since the project started, and they expect it to continue as it moves to the action phase.
“I think everyone’s more interested in implementation,” Burian said.
Call Bjorke at (701) 780-1117; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1117; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.