The Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation honored Steve Burian with the Impact Award on Thursday.
"He is one of the most visible and effective community leaders we have here in Grand Forks," said Keith Lund, president and CEO of the EDC. "Steve has really demonstrated his effectiveness as a community leader."
The EDC had its annual meeting Thursday afternoon in the Alerus Center. The Impact Award recognizes an individual making a positive impact on economic growth in the Grand Forks region.
Burian is the co-founder and former CEO of Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services (AE2S). Burian now is a senior consultant with the firm he founded in 1991 while in graduate school.
AE2S has grown from a two-person company to a 275-person multi-disciplinary firm with offices throughout the Upper Midwest and the upper Rocky Mountain Region.
Burian served on the board of the EDC from 2008 to 2017; most of that time was spent as chair.
Burian currently serves as co-chair of Valley Prosperity Partnership
"He has taken his leadership beyond Grand Forks and to the Red River Valley," Lund said.
The theme of this year's EDC meeting was "a region in motion."
Lund said the theme reflects the major projects the EDC and its partners took on in 2018 and the growth the region will see because of those projects. Examples include breaking ground on the Red River Biorefinery and the construction of a $57 million high bay freezer at J.R. Simplot.
"These are projects that will bear significant fruit in the future," Lund said. "There is real momentum, and it is evident as we look around the community."
In 2018, EDC client companies invested more than $140 million into the Grand Forks Community, Lund said.
"These companies derive their resources from across the globe and use those resources to inject millions into our local economy," he said.
Grand Forks has gotten better at attracting and retaining younger people, Lund said. The EDC is involved in programs like InternGF, a partnership between UND's Center for Innovation and the EDC; the Northern Valley Career Expo, which introduces high school students to career opportunities in the region; and the "Way Cooler Than You Think" social media campaign, which had more than 3.7 million online impressions in 2018.
Kaitlyn Spinney, director of conference sales and marketing at the Alerus Center, spoke as testament to the "Way Cooler Than You Think" initiative. Spinney, who came to Grand Forks from Denver, saw the "Cooler Than You Think" campaign when researching the town.
Lund also pointed to investments downtown that have attracted the younger generation.
"The EDC and our partners have invested in ourselves and are creating a region in which young people want to live, and I think that's something to celebrate," Lund said.