Burgum discusses Grand Forks projects funded in legislative session; total is more than $100 million

In a meeting with the Grand Forks Herald on Wednesday, May 10, Gov. Doug Burgum talked about a number of Grand Forks projects set to receive funding in the 2023-25 biennium.

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In this file photo from December of 2022, Gov. Doug Burgum meets with the Grand Forks Herald.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – As North Dakota works with an all-time high budget going into the 2023-25 biennium, more than $100 million of the total has been dedicated to projects in Grand Forks.

Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum
Governor Doug Burgum

In a meeting this week with the Grand Forks Herald, Gov. Doug Burgum outlined the state’s budget and talked about a number of Grand Forks projects set to receive funding in the 2023-25 biennium.

In total, the state’s budget for the biennium is $19.61 billion, with a $6.1 billion general fund.

According to the Grand Forks Police Department, an adult male has been driving by juveniles and exposing himself to them.

Much of the money coming to Grand Forks in the biennium was appropriated to continue programs already underway in the city.

The Legislature dedicated $39 million for unmanned aircraft system programs, up from Burgum’s budget request of $30 million.


“We always fought for about $30 million – this is one of the areas in our budget that went up, not down when the Legislature got hold of it,” Burgum said.

Of the $39 million, $26 million is appropriated for Vantis, North Dakota’s beyond visual line of sight network, which allows UAS operators to fly their vehicles remotely. Vantis is administered by the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which received $3 million from the Legislature. Another $10 million was provided to the test site for an enhanced-use lease grant with the Grand Sky UAS business park.

Over the biennium, the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, the state energy research center, will get $7.5 million for energy research and $1.5 million for rare earth mineral studies.

In April, UND was awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to research rare earth mineral extraction. Burgum said the $1.5 million appropriation for rare earth mineral research at the EERC is less than he wanted.

“We asked for more and didn’t get everything we wanted, but that’s going to get us started because that’s a big opportunity in western North Dakota, for rare earth, particularly if we want to not trade OPEC for Sinopec,” Burgum said. “If we’re going to go from dependent on foreign oil to dependent on foreign resources for batteries, then we better get going as a country on earth minerals, and North Dakota can play a big, big role in that.”

The Legislature also budgeted for some Grand Forks projects expected to come in the biennium.

A sum of $5 million was appropriated for the Grand Forks Center for Exploration, a planned children’s museum that will have a focus on STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Burgum said Rep. Mark Sandford, R-Grand Forks, worked to get funding for the project.

“Rep. Sanford was pushing hard for that, so hopefully there will be dollars helping to drive that forward,” Burgum said.


Lawmakers committed $57.4 million for UND’s planned additions to the College of Engineering and Mines, and UND’s national security corridor. In total, the project will cost around $82 million, said Burgum, with a 30% match from other sources. The project will include the teardown of the Hyslop Center, slated for summer 2024.

Sen. Scott Meyer, R-Grand Forks, was one of the sponsors of a bill that introduced a base retention grant at North Dakota’s Air Force bases. In total, $1 million was set aside for the grant program, with $500,000 going toward base retention in Minot and the other $500,000 to Fargo and Grand Forks.

This session, Meyer also introduced a bill to eliminate the income tax on active duty military pay in North Dakota. Often, airmen choose to establish residency when stationed in states like Alaska or Texas, which do not tax military pay.

“We’d like to have North Dakota be on that list,” Burgum said.

The northern Red River Valley could have access to funds for projects addressing flooding after lawmakers authorized the Department of Transportation to borrow up to $28.5 million if the Minnesota Department of Transportation matches the funds on a dollar-to-dollar basis. Another $2.5 million has been set aside for preliminary engineering and environmental studies to address Red River Valley infrastructure affected by flooding, which would also need to be matched by Minnesota or other funding sources.

“There’s a little bit of ‘Hey, come on Minnesota, this bridge goes both ways,’ built into that, but there is $2.5 million to start with all of the environmental and engineering evaluation of that site and how that project would come through,” Burgum said.

Statewide, the Legislature set aside $66 million for a child care assistance program. Burgum said the biggest issue in North Dakota’s workforce is child care.

“The fastest way in North Dakota to get people back in the workforce is to solve the childcare issue,” Burgum said.


He credited Rep. Emily O’Brien, R-Grand Forks, for her work securing funding for the program.

“Give her a giant rockstar MVP award for what she got done this session – this is one where she was leading the charge,” Burgum said. “That’s fantastic and it’s going to help every corner of the state.”

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 Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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