Does N. Dakota mean business? Ya betcha

Forget what the temperature gauge says. Fargo is hot.

That’s the message that North Dakota political and business leaders had for Chicago companies Saturday during a reception at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

Carol Monaghan Chicago Times

The state government, which until recently hasn’t done much to market itself to the business community, is wooing businesses nationwide in an effort to encourage them to expand to North Dakota. In addition to targeting specific industries such as food processing, energy and technology, it’s also targeting locations–like Chicago–that have similar climates and work ethics but higher wage rates, says Lee Peterson, commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce. "We’re not looking to move companies from anywhere," he said. "We’re seeking companies looking for new sites."

Peterson admits they battle some stereotypes. About the state’s bitter cold tundra. And that movie "Fargo," with its "Uff das" and "Hey, deres."

"The problem we have in North Dakota, we really do get a bad reputation for the weather," Peterson admitted. "But it’s probably not much worse than Chicago. And it’s certainly no worse than Minneapolis."

As for the movie, "it all happened in Minnesota," Peterson said.

But once people look into it, they’re surprised. Peterson ticked off a list: low unemployment (1.8 percent), no state budget deficit (compared to an Illinois’ shortfall in the billions), an educated workforce and the lowest worker comp claims in the nation.

At least one Chicago CEO says he’s a believer. John Jasper of SEI Information Technology, an IT consulting and support firm, set up the company’s first office in Fargo about nine years ago, with 30 people. The location now employs more than 300 people, and SEI has plans to open another office in Grand Forks. The difference, says Jasper, is the workers.

"North Dakota is a hard location to beat. Overall, the Midwest work ethic is strong, but Fargo’s is better than anything I’ve seen."

Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune,1,2655626.story?coll=chi%2Dbusiness%2Dhed

Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.