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Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation touts success in business development

EDC President and CEO Keith Lund made opening remarks to the commission, speaking about a sizable investment in the region by a data processing company. News that blockchain and artificial intelligence start-up Core Scientific is making a $100 million investment into the Grand Forks community headlined the rundown. The update, which Lund likened to an informal conversation, also included business development updates of the more than two dozen companies the EDC assisted in getting off the ground in 2019 and 2020.

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Keith Lund, president and CEO of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation, said the EDC has a “strong pipeline” of businesses across the nation that would be good candidates for LIFT loans should the program be continued. His organization also has been instrumental in helping local companies hire interns. Submitted photo
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The Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation presented new data highlighting the creation of 27 new companies and more than 300 jobs in 2019 and 2020 in its meeting with the Grand Forks County Commission members Tuesday.

The statistics were part of an annual rundown presented to the commissioners, and the first held since 2019, due to COVID-19 complications.

EDC President and CEO Keith Lund made opening remarks to the commission, speaking about a sizable investment in the region by a data processing company. News that blockchain and artificial intelligence start-up Core Scientific is making a $100 million investment into the Grand Forks community headlined the rundown. The update, which Lund likened to an informal conversation, also included business development updates of the more than two dozen companies the EDC assisted in getting off the ground in 2019 and 2020.

“We’re still working through a couple of final points, but they’ve made that announcement, so they’ll be in working construction on that project later this year with the anticipation of at least two buildings operational by the end of 2021,” Lund said of Core Core Scientific’s project.

Lund was followed by EDC Director of Business Development Brandon Baumbach, who spoke about the different sectors of business development and financial tools he and the Grand Forks Region EDC use to grow the local economy.

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“We primarily work with those companies certified as, or categorized as ‘primary sector companies,’ Baumbach said. “Just a reminder, that’s primarily twofold - they’re adding value to a process or a product, and they’re primarily selling them elsewhere (to) markets far away, and that will in turn drive new wealth into our community.”

The EDC’s projects created a projected combined value of more than $61 million in 2019 and 2020. It assisted with the creation of 27 companies and 305 jobs in that time. Those new companies and jobs ranged in fields from manufacturing, agriculture, high tech and other industries. It also accrued nearly $60 million in investments in the region through the creation of those companies according to EDC data presented at the meeting.

Next was EDC Workforce Development Manager Becca Cruger, who finished her remarks by providing an update on the Intern Grand Forks program, which she said has placed more than 50 interns in multiple companies since it was established in 2018. The program, carried out with UND’s Center for Innovation, pays half of the wages for local companies to establish new internships.

UAS Developer Nathan Iseminger, who has worked for the EDC for nearly three months, followed by introducing himself and explaining that his primary job is to recruit and grow business development. He finished by adding that a new labor survey had been recently completed. The EDC has been completing yearly labor surveys since 2015, with the exception of 2020 due to complications from COVID-19, because the Department of Labor does not track the industry yearly - instead opting to update every 10 years.

“We kind of do it the old fashioned way (by) just picking up the phone and asking people, ‘How many full-time employees do you have? (What is the) average salary?’” said Iseminger.

According to Iseminger, the average salary of people working in primary sector jobs in the region stands at more than $63,000, up from $36,000 in 2010, for an increase of 73.5%.

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS REGION EDC
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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