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Burgum sets out plan to overcome North Dakota's 'No. 1 barrier to economic growth'

The North Dakota governor's plan released Wednesday would allocate more than $50 million in state funds to a series of workforce development programs.

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum delivers the State of the State address at the Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks in January 2020.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and the state's Workforce Development Council unveiled a proposed legislative package meant to address the state's workforce shortages.

Employers across the state have struggled to find workers amid an extremely tight labor market. North Dakota's unemployment rate was just 2.2% as of September, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The plan released Wednesday, Oct. 26, would allocate more than $50 million in state funds to a series of workforce development programs.

The package includes:

The proposal also includes lower allocations for technical training grants and workforce training for people in prison.
“With broad representation across multiple industries and all levels of government, the Workforce Development Council is uniquely suited to recommend solutions to our workforce challenge, which remains our No. 1 barrier to economic growth,” Burgum said in a news release.

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Any funding proposals will have to go through the Republican-led Legislature, which will meet for a regular session next year.

Lawmakers have shared an occasionally rocky relationship with Burgum in the past. The Legislature passed several measures to restrict the governor's emergency powers last session after Burgum attempted to unseat Republican incumbents as a donor during the 2020 election cycle. Earlier this year, a political committee that receives funding from Burgum promoted several Republican candidates running against GOP incumbents.

Burgum established the Workforce Development Council in 2017 to explore options for attracting and retaining workers in North Dakota. The board is made up of private business leaders and public officials.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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