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The Bismarck-Mandan Development Association wants its membership to be in lockstep with the education community, said President Brian Ritter at the organization’s annual meeting on Monday.

The organization heard from education reform author and activist Ted Dintersmith on ways the business community could aid educators trying to teach the next generation workforce.

Dintersmith told the 280 attendees, as technology rapidly changes workforce demands, the education system should emphasize hands-on problem solving and innovation.

“This is an important problem to solve,” he said of moving students away from rote memorization.

Ritter said he thinks it’s the BMDA’s role to be the conduit between the business community and the community’s education leaders to make sure the two groups are working together.

“The way our economy in Bismarck-Mandan is built — we’re so diversified — it’s always going to support low unemployment,” Ritter said.

For that reason, Ritter said it is important for companies to be able to find the talent needed within the community and convince students there are local opportunities for them upon graduation.

Ritter said workforce development, retention and attraction will continue to be goals of the organization well into the future.

At the annual meeting, newly elected board president Kevin Magstadt, also said the BMDA and Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce continue with talks about a potential merger and restructuring of the two organizations.

Magstadt said the two groups expect a final decision on whether to merge by May. Should they decided to join the organizations, he said it would take another year to decide on the details of the new organization.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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Business Reporter