CAVALIER, N.D.-Bryan McCoy has a straightforward goal for the new Cavalier Renaissance Zone Program.

"My goal is to do one commercial and one housing project per year for 15 years," Cavalier's economic and chamber director said. "The key is to get that first project going. Then others will see what it can do."

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

When this Pembina County city of 1,300 launched its Renaissance Zone program last month, it joined 55 other North Dakota cities in the North Dakota Department of Commerce's Division of Community Services program that offers incentives for business and housing improvements. Those incentives include five-year, 100-percent tax exemptions, plus tax credits for:

  • Commercial rehabilitation projects, including apartments.
  • Business purchases or expansions.
  • Historical rehabilitation for properties already listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Others cities in region in the program are: Cando, Cooperstown, Devils Lake, Finley, Grafton, Grand Forks, Hope, Lakota, Langdon, Mayville, Munich, Northwood and Park River.

Cavalier has designated 23 square blocks, the maximum allowed for cities under 5,000 population.

So far, a couple of local contractors have expressed interest in housing rehabilitation projects, McCoy said.

Because the program is new in Cavalier, he said many businesses or residents still do not know much about the it or how they might qualify.

One longtime business, Thompson's Cafe, currently is renovating its Main Street property. Besides new flooring and carpeting indoors, contractors worked this week to install new metal shake shingles on the storefront awning.

Daryl Thompson, who owns the cafe with his wife, Kelley, have inquired about the Renaissance program, but they're still not sure if the project might qualify for any tax breaks.

"It would be nice if we do," he said. "But we needed new carpet. When you're doing one thing, it doesn't hurt to go a little further."

When he started, he wanted to have it completed June 19, for the two-day 19th Annual Cavalier Motorcycle Ride In, which promoters call "Little Sturgis of the North." The event draws 1,000 or more bikers from throughout the region.

"They've been so good to us," he said.

In addition, Cavalier is hosting an all-class reunion July 25.

"Our Main Street is OK," McCoy said, despite four or five empty storefronts.

McCoy, a Tennessee native who has a master of public administration degree from UND, has lived in Cavalier for about 14 months. He also spent 15 months in Fargo after graduation, working with the North Dakota Community Action Partnership.

Like communities throughout the region, he said housing is a critical need in Cavalier, which is located about 80 miles northwest of Grand Forks.

Ultimately, McCoy would like to attract a developer to Cavalier who would create a downtown multi-floor, multi-use complex, perhaps with business or office space on the ground floor and apartments on upper floors.

As the local tourism director, he also would like to attract new businesses-such as bicycle, ski or camping shops-that could serve the region's tourism and recreational industry.

Cavalier, part of a regional tourism zone called the Rendezvous Region named for its fur-trade history, is located just a few miles from Icelandic State Park, Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area and Frost Fire Ski and Snowboard Area.

"I know we're a lot smaller than a lot of cities, but I think we can make it work in Cavalier," he said.