Grand Forks council members receive update on Career Impact Academy, give preliminary OK for land transfer

In November 2021, the City Council and Jobs Development Authority affirmed commitment to assist in the project through a donation of several parcels of land.

Grand Forks City Hall
Grand Forks City Hall, 255 N. 4th St. Sam Easter / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – City Council members on Monday gave preliminary approval to authorize the transfer of parcels of land to the Grand Forks School District for the Career Impact Academy via a quit claim deed.

The early approval came during the the council's regularly scheduled Committee of the Whole meeting.

In November 2021, the City Council and Jobs Development Authority affirmed commitment to assist in the project through a donation of several parcels of land. The land from the JDA is the former Grand Forks Inn & Suites – and previously the Holiday Inn – property located at 1210 N. 43rd Street off of Gateway Drive. The land from the City Council is the undeveloped property to the east of the Convention and Visitors Bureau facility.

A replat of the CVB property, which created separate parcels and provides appropriate easements and rights-of-way, along with the replat of the hotel property received final approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission on May 3 and the City Council on May 15. The approval of the requested property transfers will conclude the JDA and city contributions to the CIA project.

The CIA project has been years in the making. A timeline was presented by Eric Ripley, director of career and technical education for Grand Forks Public Schools, during Monday’s meeting.


“This has been a marathon, not a sprint,” Ripley told council members.

In 2021, a local fundraising campaign was undertaken to raise $10 million, which could be matched by state dollars, to create the career center. In less than three months, approximately 70 companies and a handful of individuals donated $11 million. The project then received the full state match.

Despite the fundraising efforts, the CIA and other career and technical educational center projects across the state were pushed back due to a delay in the allocation of $88 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds earmarked for the project. Whereas the state had promised the dollars for qualifying projects, it couldn't distribute the funds because of those delays at the federal level.

Efforts during the recently concluded session of the Legislature helped. House Bill 1199 authorized a $68 million line of credit through the Bank of North Dakota so the centers could proceed. The Grand Forks CIA’s share of funding is $10 million.

House Bill 1019 provides a one-time funding of $26.5 million over the biennium to cover cost increases related to the delays. Of that, $3 million will go to the Grand Forks project.

Additional sources of funding are still being pursued, such as equipment grants and the potential for new market tax credits because of the location of the land.

The CIA is part of an effort to address workforce shortages in numerous sectors, including health care, technology, aviation and engineering. Some of the programs that will be offered at the CIA are automotive services, building trades, electronics, engineering, information technology and medical careers.

During Monday's meeting, an outline of the next steps — including the schedule for construction — was presented to council members. The project is set to go out for bids on June 1, with those bids then being delivered to Grand Forks Public Schools in mid July. Construction is set to begin in October, subject to availability of material, and the CIA is anticipated to be finished by the fall of 2025.


At the end of their conversation Monday, City Council President Dana Sande asked whether there will be an advisory committee made up of community members. Ripley said every program area offered at the CIA will need to have an advisory committee made up of stakeholders specific to the program area. Ripley said an overarching community advisory board made up of key stakeholders from the city, Economic Development Corporation and county also is important.

The land transfer will be brought back to the Growth Fund Committee, JDA and City Council meetings on June 5.

Also Monday, council members reviewed revised citizen comment policies that were drafted by City Attorney Dan Gaustad following their discussion last week.

The revised policies apply to all public meetings, not just council meetings. Some of the meeting decorum guidelines also apply to everyone in attendance of meetings, including those in the audience and those participating in the meetings.

New guidelines for the citizen comment portion of meetings include:

  • Only those who are residents, own real property, operate a business or are an employee of a business or governmental entity operated within the city of Grand Forks or the extra-territorial zoning area of the city are allowed to speak during the citizen comment portions of the City Council meetings. UND students and Grand Forks Air Force Base will be allowed to speak.
  • The City Council agenda will include two citizen comment portions of the meeting. The first will be immediately before the action item portion of the agenda and will be labeled “Citizen Comments – Action Items.” The second comment portion will be at the end of the meeting and immediately before agenda items for comments by city administrator, mayor and City Council members and will be labeled “Citizen Comments – General.”
  • Those who want to speak will need to turn in a comment card with their name, address and the subject to be addressed prior to the start of each comment portion of the meeting.
  • Those who are not residents of the city will need to list the address of the business they operate or are employed by, or the real property they own.

The guidelines also outline decorum at meetings, which allows the presiding officer to determine if certain behavior — such as talking beyond the five-minute time limit or being disruptive to others — is a disruption to the meetings. The presiding officer will be able to give a warning, which may result in the meeting being recessed. If the behavior is severe, the presiding officer can request the person to leave.
Council members will vote on the revised policies at their next City Council meeting on June 5.

In other news Monday, council members:

  • Received a presentation on a multi-district PFAS class-action lawsuit regarding PFAS, known as forever chemicals, which have been detected in cities across the country.
  • Considered approving a license for a new taxi company, Party Pilot, which is proposing to offer services in Grand Forks. Council members also gave preliminary approval to amend city code relating to taxi meters. The amendment would update city code to include new technology used for taxi fares and will make Grand Forks more comparable with other cities in the state.
  • Reviewed an agreement with Verizon for the placement of small cell wireless facilities on city-owned street light poles within the city’s right-of-way. Council members also discussed the potential to track how much radiation would be emitted from the wireless facilities.
  • Reviewed a one-time retention initiative for employees with the city’s Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The retention initiative would be available for all active employees who aren’t currently in the training program. The initiative is proposed to be applied over the second half of this year. Full-time employees are set to receive a total of $2,000 and part-time employees are set to receive a total of $500. The total impact on the city’s budget is $26,000.
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
What To Read Next
Get Local