John Hageman covers local business and North Dakota politics. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Bemidji Pioneer.
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Already operating with tight budgets, Grand Forks area nonprofit organizations are bracing for a new federal rule that will expand the number of people eligible for overtime pay. When it goes into effect Dec. 1, the rule will roughly double the threshold below which most white-collar salaried employees are guaranteed overtime pay, from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. The head of the Greater North Dakota Chamber and some state lawmakers have expressed concern over the rule, but nonprofits also are expected to feel its effects.
The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority finalized a slimmer 2017 budget Thursday. The budget projects a roughly 9.4 percent drop in operating revenue from its original 2016 budget, from $4,315,149 to $3,911,451. That's due in part to a 52 percent cut in landing fees, brought on largely by FedEx's planned departure from the Grand Forks International Airport.
A commercial condo development is in the works near Interstate 29 in southwest Grand Forks. Matt Baasch, a developer of the project, said he and his partners brought a similar concept to West Fargo a couple of years ago. The idea involves about 29 buildings that are targeted for entrepreneurs who need some garage, warehouse or office space. Baasch said the buildings have been used for personal "man cave" space as well.
Construction of a new straw pulp plant in north Grand Forks could start next year. Hua Sun, chief operating officer of North American Green Pulp, said his group is working on financing the project. He hopes to be operational after the 2017 harvest season. "Many, many factors can change the schedule," Sun said.
An audit of the North Dakota Department of Human Services found child care providers were allowed to continue operating while the state's largest agency was aware of instances of illegal drug use and "inappropriate touching from adults."
North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley repeatedly called the protest over an oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation "unlawful" Tuesday and called on tribal leaders to pull people out of what he described as an increasingly dangerous situation.
A "next generation" biorefinery may be in Grand Forks' future. Red River BioRefinery LLC submitted a grant application in June to the state of North Dakota for the project, which "will utilize waste from local agricultural processing for the production of (redacted) ethanol," according to a copy of the application provided by the state Department of Commerce. The application lists Grand Forks as the plant's location.
A new sub shop is poised to open in south Grand Forks next week. Firehouse Subs will open Monday in the former Quizno's at 2650 32nd Ave. S., near the intersection with South Columbia Road, said spokeswoman Brittany Mirvil. The chain opened its first North Dakota location two years ago in Fargo. Firehouse's menu includes hot and cold subs, salads and a kids menu. The chain, based in Jacksonville, Fla., opened its 1,000th restaurant this year. Rhombus Guys open parklet
GILBY, N.D.—Robert McLean predicts he'll be doing more of his banking online once the only bank in his town closes in October. Bremer Bank told customers in late July it had made the "business decision" to close its Gilby branch Oct. 28, the same day the bank will close another location in Fisher, Minn. Gilby is a town of roughly 230 people 30 miles northwest of Grand Forks, while Fisher is home to about 430 people 15 miles southeast of Grand Forks.
Despite recent closures, Ruby Tuesday restaurants in North Dakota will remain open. Todd Hoekstra, franchise owner of Ruby Tuesday restaurants in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Iowa said his restaurants do "extremely well." The chain has locations in Grand Forks, Fargo, Bismarck and Minot. "We're fine," Hoekstra said. He added the restaurants that have closed were company-owned restaurants.