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Public and private partners launch rural workforce attraction initiative in northeastern North Dakota

According to recent business surveys completed by the Red River Regional Council, the region will need upwards of 1,000 new employees in manufacturing, healthcare, education and small businesses over the next five years. The goal of the new initiative is to address this need by creating a marketing strategy to promote rural northeastern North Dakota as a quality place to live, work and play.

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A water tower in Grafton, N.D. (Grand Forks Herald photo)
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GRAFTON – Public and private entities in Nelson, Pembina and Walsh Counties have come together for a new workforce attraction and development initiative in northeastern North Dakota.

According to recent business surveys completed by the Red River Regional Council, the region will need upwards of 1,000 new employees in manufacturing, health care, education and small businesses over the next five years. The goal of the new initiative is to address this need by creating a marketing strategy to promote rural northeastern North Dakota as a quality place to live, work and play.

The initiative, announced by the Red River Regional Council on Tuesday, Nov. 29, is funded by state and federal grant funding from the Regional Workforce Impact Program and 25% matching funds from the Nelson, Pembina and Walsh County job development authorities. In total, the initiative has a short-term budget of $250,000 for its launch, which is being invested in a professional workforce attraction consultant team. This team will work with a group of private and public partners in the region to employ a regional workforce director.

The new workforce attraction component will add to the ongoing, student-focused workforce development efforts in the three counties, like the work of the North Valley Career and Technology Center, which introduces K-12 students to local career opportunities. More than 145 regional businesses are involved with job shadowing, internships, and other work-based learning.

Stacy Sevigny, who has worked with the Red River Regional Council in Grafton since 2014 will take on a new role as the director of workforce development for Nelson, Pembina and Walsh Counties.

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Stacie Sevigny
Contributed / Red River Regional Council

“This new initiative is a critical investment in the future of our rural region’s manufacturers, businesses, employers and communities, and we are so excited to promote Stacie into this role, as she brings incredible experience working with businesses and communities,” said Dawn Mandt, RRRC executive director.

Part of Sevigny’s role will focus on coordinating work-based education programs in collaboration with North Valley.

“Our goal is to fill the open jobs in our region and expose our students to opportunities — and there are a lot of great career opportunities,” said Mike Hanson, director at North Valley. “The needs are changing, and we need to stay relevant and continue to make strides to meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce."

Sevigny brings considerable knowledge and experience in working with businesses and the needs of the region, and she will be a tremendous asset for the development of these programs, Hanson said.

“I’m very excited to move into this new role that focuses both on attracting workforce and showing our students there are many, many opportunities for them here,” Sevigny said. “We heard from businesses and communities that the workforce is among their biggest challenges. We have a story to tell and will reach more people by working together on marketing, workforce attraction and on building up our young people.”

This initiative has secured short-term funding. Private and public partners will create stable, long-term funding to meet the goal of seeing people relocate to the area.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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