Kristin Hedger, Dickinson, N.D., column: Tax credits can help grow productivity
By Kristin Hedger DICKINSON, N.D. -- With North Dakota's economy on a firm footing, there never has been a better time for our state's leaders to focus on strategic investment -- particularly in the manufacturing sector. North Dakota businesses a...
By Kristin Hedger
DICKINSON, N.D. -- With North Dakota's economy on a firm footing, there never has been a better time for our state's leaders to focus on strategic investment -- particularly in the manufacturing sector.
North Dakota businesses are acutely aware of the need for sensible strategic investment, and with the recent introduction of Senate Bill 2055 in the Legislature, our elected officials are focusing on it, too.
SB 2055 would provide tax credits to businesses that buy equipment to automate their manufacturing processes and invest in "lean" training for their employees. The lean process focuses on the creation of maximum value for the customer with greater efficiency and less work for the producer.
As a result of my work with Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing and the Dakota Defense Alliance, I can tell you for a fact that the lean process works.
We now live in a world where emerging markets for North Dakota goods continue to expand, and global demand for our products never has been greater. The expanded use of lean manufacturing practices and automation equipment will result in increased efficiencies, enabling our manufacturers to increase output to meet those expanding demands.
Now, it's no secret that greater efficiency and more automation sometimes have gotten "a bad rap," the thinking being that when businesses do more with less, that will cost us jobs. In fact, just the opposite is true.
The reality is that global demand is exceeding what traditional manufacturing can provide. It's simple, really: Increased efficiency means selling more goods faster, enabling businesses to increase production, which actually stimulates job growth and encourages higher wages.
In the agricultural sector, our state's trade office is helping our farmers and ranchers reach out to emerging markets abroad. North Dakota is uniquely positioned to "knock it out of the park" by providing not only the grain, beef and other products to help feed developing nations, but also the equipment and expertise to teach them how to grow their own farm sectors.
It doesn't take a Ph.D. in economics or political science to understand that countries better able to feed their people are a lot less likely to fall victim to internal unrest and violent extremism. Many believe, for instance, that North Korea -- with its starving millions -- needs to foment trouble with its neighbors to draw attention away from the people's hunger.
Helping to feed the people of emerging nations helps ensure that those nations become stable trade partners and responsible members of the international community. Make no mistake: What's good for North Dakota's economy also is good for our national security.
It is within our grasp to advance the state of the art not only in production practices but also in advanced technologies. And by encouraging policies that reward more productive businesses, we can set an example for not only other states but also federal policy makers to do the same.
The result will be real economic stimulus, real job creation and increased exports to address our trade imbalance.
Strategic investment as exemplified by SB 2055 is the ultimate win-win: It's good for North Dakota workers and businesses, and it's good for America.
Hedger is vice president of Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing and co-founder and executive director of the Dakota Defense Alliance.