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Devils Lake leaders 'on track' for vibrant downtown

DEVILS LAKE -- Bike paths, public beaches and year-round family recreation. A vibrant downtown with booming business, green space and historic buildings.

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Gov. Doug Burgum promotes Main Street Initiative Wednesday, Oct. 25, in Devils Lake.

DEVILS LAKE - Bike paths, public beaches and year-round family recreation. A vibrant downtown with booming business, green space and historic buildings.

The ideas flowed freely Wednesday as dozens of leaders gathered in the town's historic Lake Region Heritage Center for a community conversation with the governor.

The event was part of Gov. Doug Burgum's state tour to promote his Main Street Initiative - a plan designed to help communities promote smart, efficient infrastructure, build vibrant downtowns and attract a skilled workforce.

"The sky's the limit for Devils Lake," Burgum told the crowd. "At the end of the day, it probably all comes down to leadership and is the leadership going to have the creativity, the perseverance and the courage to try new things."

The city already is in the middle of its own Downtown Initiative, and entrepreneurs and leaders from all angles - business, education, health care and recreation, as well as representatives in the state Legislature - said they were ready for the challenge.

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Mayor Dick Johnson said the governor's enthusiasm has re-energized his city.

"We've got a lot of good things going. We're encouraged by his drive and his leadership. We're going to be one of those communities that certainly takes advantage of his knowledge and his initiative. We're excited," Johnson said. "He really believes in the Main Street Initiative. He obviously does because he invested in it himself, and look at the success they've had in Fargo.

"We'll never be a Fargo. We'll never be a Bismarck, but we can be a real good Devils Lake, and we can make that the best community we could possibly be."

The governor stressed Wednesday that the Main Street Initiative is not a top-down plan. The state wants to work with local leaders to shape the future for a 21st century economy.

Input gathered from community meetings throughout the state will be used to build a resource toolbox, he said.

"We're going to get people the information, programs, tools and ideas. If a community wants to opt in, we're going to support them. If they say, hey it's not for us, that's fine, too. If local leaders don't want to do it, none of this stuff is going to work," Burgum said. "Devils Lake seems like it's already on the track of stepping up, saying we want to be on the front end of this thing and reach the full potential the region can reach."

Related Topics: DOUG BURGUM
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