BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today challenged communities to get involved now in envisioning their futures during his keynote address at the first-ever Main Street ND Summit, hosted by the North Dakota Department of Commerce at the Bismarck Event Center.
Welcoming the more than 650 community members, students and state team members who registered for the two-day event, Burgum promoted the three pillars of the Main Street Initiative: a skilled workforce; smart, efficient infrastructure; and healthy, vibrant communities to help North Dakota compete in a 21st century economy in which rapid technological advancement is changing every job, industry and organization.
“Our state’s unlimited promise and potential can only be reached if every community reaches their fullest potential,” Burgum said. “Each community faces unique challenges and opportunities, and the Main Street Initiative is about empowering local leaders to find creative solutions that capitalize on their strengths to create smart, financially solvent communities for the future.”
Burgum also unveiled the beta version of the Main Street Community Dashboard, an online tool developed by the Department of Commerce, Information Technology Department and other state agencies to provide community leaders with publicly available – but not always easy to find – information that can be used to help grow healthy, vibrant, financially solvent communities. The dashboard, which includes community profile information and state, county and city financial information, is viewable at www.mainstreetnd.com and will continue to evolve over the next several months.
Those attending the two-day summit will hear from local and national community development experts and advocates, learning about best practices and how to engage community leaders, entrepreneurs and students in envisioning North Dakota’s future. Featured speakers include Charles Marohn of Strong Towns, Robert J. Gibbs of Gibbs Planning Group and Roger Brooks of Roger Brooks International.
Attendees also heard today from Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, who shared his experience as former mayor of Watford City and how the community utilized the three pillars of what is now the Main Street Initiative to deal with rapid growth and create a community attractive to workers and families.
Team members from the Governor’s Office, Department of Commerce and other state agencies have met with leaders and residents in 14 communities in recent months to learn about their needs and challenges and provide information about state development programs.
The summit also is showcasing community projects that build culture and grow vibrant communities; infrastructure projects with infill and historic revitalization; and workforce development and educational programs. Twenty-nine communities of various sizes have signed up as Main Street communities, with several launching community planning and visioning efforts following the Main Street Initiative visits.
Burgum also announced a Building Tomorrow’s Leaders partnership between the Main Street Initiative, NDSU Extension and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. The program provides leadership skills training for high school students, who will ultimately be asked to design and implement a project in one of the three pillars of the Main Street Initiative, with the completed project highlighted at www.mainstreetnd.com.
The Main Street ND Summit continues Tuesday.