2018's business stories

From stores opening and closing to a trade war, 2018 was full of wave-making news in the business world of the Red River Valley. These are the most impactful business stories of the year for the Grand Forks area.

A shopper enters the Sears store in Grand Forks in June. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

From stores opening and closing to a trade war, 2018 was full of wave-making news in the business world of the Red River Valley. These are the most impactful business stories of the year for the Grand Forks area.

Hornbacher's closing

The Hornbacher's in Grand Forks closed on Dec. 19 after it's parent company, SuperValu, sold the rest of the chain to Coborn's.

Coborn's did not buy the Grand Forks store.

The closing was announced in November of 2018, to many Grand Forks residents' dismay.


Employees will be paid through Feb. 4 and then receive severance pay, if eligible, according to SuperValu spokesman Michael Wilken.

"We appreciate all that our associates in Grand Forks have done to take care of our loyal shoppers and serve the local community," Wilken said.

SuperValu sold itself to United Natural Foods Inc. earlier in 2018. It was a $2.9 billion deal that included the company's debt and liabilities.

Amazon leaving Grand Forks

When internet retailer Amazon moved roughly 200 employees out of their space in the industrial park, city officials said it was a "loss" for Grand Forks.

Amazon announced in February it would leave the city-owned space at 1550 S. 48th St.

The company was out by the end of June and all the employees were encouraged to work from home.

No jobs were technically lost, but City Administrator Todd Feland said having Amazon in Grand Forks and the state was important.


The city eventually found a new tenant for the space that Amazon left vacant. LM Wind Power will expand its facilities in a $2.5 million project in the building. LM Wind Power was an obvious choice to fill the vacancy, city officials said, because they already own space adjacent to the structure and lease the back half of the city-owned building.

Sears and other stores closing

Sears in Grand Forks closed in September of this year, leaving Columbia Mall without two anchor tenants.

The retailer pulled out of Grand Forks at the same time it shuttered more than 60 other stores across the nation. Sears opened in the Columbia Mall in 2000. Before that, there was a Sears downtown and later one at the Grand Cities Mall.

The space that was formally Macy's in the mall, which closed in March of 2017, will be filled with several new tenants, developers said. A California-based property management group bought the space and said it plans to lease it out to several different retail stores.

New construction downtown

Several downtown construction projects were announced this year, including A new building at DeMers Avenue and Fifth Street that would include a Hugo's and an Alerus branch.

Kennedy Bridge construction began in 2017 and was completed, for the most part, this year, with bridge reopening all four lanes in December. Minor work, like painting, is scheduled for next year.


The downtown DeMers Avenue Reconstruction Project was approved this year. Because of public concern, mostly from farmers who use to route to transport crops, bump outs will not be included in the plan. The city will add bump outs to the side streets, Third and Fourth Streets.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation plans to begin rehabilitating DeMers Avenue from Sixth Street to the Sorlie Bridge next year.

LaGrave on First officially opened its doors in late August. It features 42 one-bedroom units for the "chronically homeless," or individuals who have been struggling with homelessness for more than a year.

Northridge developers also announced construction for a six-story multi use building between University Avenue and Second Avenue on North Fourth Street downtown. The project encompases four buildings that are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places: the Lyons Garage and Auto Supply at 210 and 214 N. Fourth St., and two buildings at 220 and 224 N. Fourth St.

Construction is estimated to take about 16 months, Northridge said.

2018 trade war

Trade was a hot topic for most of 2018, especially its impacts on the region's agriculture.

Over the summer, President Donald Trump's administration imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods. The goods faced a 25 percent border tax when imported to the US. China responded by imposing a similar tariff on the US, heavily taxing products like beef and soybeans.


Many farmers were caught in the middle of this trade war. Crop prices stayed relatively low, exacerbating the effect of Chinese tariffs on soybeans. Farmers received federal aid during this trade war. Also in December, Trump signed into law the farm bill. It will provide billions of dollars in aid to U.S. farmers.

In December, Trump also agreed to a truce with Chinese President Xi Jinping to postpone tariffs. The two leaders agreed to halt new tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks, Trump said.

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