A subcommittee of the Grand Forks Job Development Authority has recommended the JDA financially support a convenience store that recently opened in Thompson.
The Grand Forks Growth Fund Committee voted Tuesday in favor of the JDA offering a $66,667 loan to help subsidize a roughly $1.6 million loan taken by Eastdale, LLC, a real estate company for Northdale Oil, Inc. The aforementioned convenience store is owned by Northdale Oil.
"The Growth Fund Committee, or the JDA, (has) been investing in primary sector businesses throughout all of Grand Forks County since its inception," said Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation President Keith Lund.
The Growth Fund was established in 1987 to support local economic development.
Most of these investments have been possible through the Bank of North Dakota's PACE program. PACE is an acronym for Partnership and Assisting Community Expansion.
Through PACE, non primary sector projects can receive a loan from a commercial bank, and the Bank of North Dakota in partnership with a participating entity like the JDA, will provide resources to lower the interest rate on the loan.
By "non primary sector," the Bank of North Dakota means something that adds value to a product or service. Examples of this include manufacturing and software development.
The Bank of North Dakota also requires these primary sector businesses sell their products outside of their trade region or the state.
For projects that don't meet these requirements, the Bank of North Dakota has a FlexPACE program for communities that wish to support both primary and non primary sector projects.
"What the (Grand Forks JDA is) talking about now is should they, or might they, invest in non primary sector business opportunities in rural Grand Forks County," Lund said.
The Northdale Oil agreement is the first time the city has used FlexPACE funding for a non primary sector project.
"People have said to me, 'Why is Grand Forks being so tough on the greater region?," said City Administrator Todd Feland. "And then I have to explain, 'Well, actually, we're trying to do something for the region that we wouldn't do for ourselves.'"
The JDA doesn't take requests for non primary sector projects within city limits, according to city Community Development Director Meredith Richards.
Lund pointed out Tuesday most rural communities have more non primary sector opportunities than primary sector opportunities.
Committee members indicated last fall they are interested in supporting more non primary sector projects throughout the rural Grand Forks region using the FlexPACE program, according to a staff memo from the meeting.
The committee reviewed a January study from the EDC on Tuesday, where the organization studied eight locations that participate in the FlexPACE program and three cities in the region that have indicated they would apply for financial support through the program.
Although committee members approved using the FlexPACE program to help the Thompson convenience store, they agreed to discuss what projects they'd deem eligible and what constitutes as the Grand Forks region in future meetings.