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Gov. Doug Burgum, right, goes over his notes with communications director Mike Nowatzki before speaking to business leaders gathered for the Greater North Dakota Chamber policy summit in Bismarck in 2017.

The governor’s cabinet leaders are building a “tool kit” for cities to help those interested in implementing his Main Street Initiative.

Gov. Doug Burgum spoke of his initiative, which emphasizes infill as a way to save on infrastructure costs and create attractive cities young workers will want to live in, to 340 attendees at the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Summit Thursday.

Meanwhile, the North Dakota Department of Commerce is working with multiple state agencies to identify what services and state resources are already out there, inventorying them to create a one-stop-shop for local governments, said Co-Deputy Commissioner Sandy McMerty.

She anticipates the “tool kit” will be available this fall. How it will look, be organized and what it will include is being determined by agency heads now.

McMerty said the goal is to whittle down the available information so communities can better understand how it's useful to them. And the state IT Department is building an online dashboard tool to serve as an access point to that information, so instead of jumping from one agency website to another, it will be in one place.

State legislators have said they find the governor’s vision of economically efficient cities and workforce attraction interesting, but many wonder what policy steps will need to be taken to make that vision a reality.

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“It’s a question of how you do it,” said Rep. Cory Mock, D-Grand Forks during a legislative panel discussion at the chamber summit. “We haven’t seen a lot of specific details in enacting the governor’s policy.”

McMerty said she does see some potential for policy changes in the future. But what they are doing now is more about awareness and education and helping local governments navigate what’s already in existence. She said it’s about looking at programs through a new lens.

The dashboard will also include data analysis tools to help communities understand the data that is available from the state, giving data-driven reasons for why the public should support these goals.

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

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