Our view: Putting pieces into the city's progress puzzle

Herald pull quote, 10/25/19

In February, Mayor Mike Brown told attendees at his annual State of the City address that “Grand Forks is poised for a billion-dollar boom.”

We noted it then in a front-page story and an opinion column, but hadn’t thought much about it in the months since. That is, until we saw a Herald photo of the massive outline of the new freezer emerging at the J.R. Simplot location in north Grand Forks. It is, without doubt, beyond what any layman could have imagined.

The $60 million expansion looks like a high-rise apartment building, standing almost 13 stories tall. The new freezer will help Simplot store more potatoes and for a longer time; it also will likely lead to an expansion of employees, accompanied, of course, by a corresponding increase in payroll. All of that is good for Grand Forks and the region.

Better yet, the expansion will make Simplot more “sticky” to Grand Forks, since it will reinforce the city as a key distribution hub for the company. As reported recently by the Herald, the new freezer will allow storage of more products from around the nation. So, it’s an expansion that will eventually boost property taxes, increase employees, boost the payroll and make the company more apt to stay in Grand Forks in the future.

It’s a heck of project.


And it was one of the pieces of the mayor’s “billion-dollar boom” in public and private projects that was underway – or in some cases, on the verge of happening – back in February.

There’s the $300 million construction project at Altru Health System. There are projects underway at UND, including the new Memorial Union. There is a new project going in on DeMers where the Gershman family purchased a corner building and is beginning work on what could someday be a new restaurant. And kitty corner from that site is, today, a hole in the ground that will become Pure Development – a combination of a Hugo’s grocery store, an Alerus bank and an apartment complex. Other construction projects downtown continue, ranging from new condos and business places to continued renovation work on DeMers Avenue. In south Grand Forks, the new park dedicated to veterans continues its emergence. And a recent vote by the City Council could put wheels on an interchange proposal at the future intersection of 47th Avenue and Interstate 29.

This is progress, and it doesn’t take much to notice that it’s happening, other than a simple drive around town or a glance at an edition of the Herald.

Sure, some of it is inconvenient – ongoing road projects downtown and on University Avenue near UND, for example – but it’s all part of a great step forward.

And it all continues to place the pieces into the puzzle that Brown mentioned in his speech back in February.

What To Read Next
Get Local