A representative with the North Dakota Department of Commerce leads discussion on workforce development and attraction in rural communities. Frank Turner/Adams County Record
The local Adams County Development Corporation gathered with other development corporations from the surrounding region for the Main Street Initiative Regional Convening in Adams County last week.
At the Hettinger Research Extension Center, community leaders and representatives from Mandan, Mott, Bowman, Dickinson, and Hettinger shared their challenges, successes, and innovative solutions with the hopes of collecting new ideas for success from other communities.
“Convenings like this provide a great chance to get together with similar communities,” said Executive Director of the Hettinger Chamber of Commerce and Adams Development Corporation Jasmin Fosheim, host of the convening, “Not only to share resources, but also as a reminder that many of the challenges we are facing in Adams County are parallel to the challenges that other communities with similar circumstances are facing.”
The convening, led by the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, covered a host of challenges plaguing small communities around the state.
Although the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce suggested a whole list of topics for discussion, attendees of the conference were able to pick and choose what issues they wanted to discuss further for their own communities.
Specifically, representatives from the region chose to discuss long-term topics regarding population decline and labor shortage. Commerce directors identified succession planning, workforce development and retention, youth engagement, strategic planning, and empty business lots as major concerns for the surrounding region.
During discussion of workforce development, Executive Director of the Bowman Chamber of Commerce Teran Doerr highlighted the importance of having a unique approach to attracting new people to the Bowman community.
“We need to know who our target market is,” said Doerr. “Most newcomers are starting new families. We can’t be chasing the image of downtown Fargo.”
Discussion leaders from the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce also contributed solutions to the conversations. State discussion leaders encouraged communities to create a comprehensive plan to identify broader community goals. In addition to planning guidance, discussion leaders also identified available grants for local communities that could help economic director target larger projects.
In total, the convening had a strong turnout from not only commerce representatives, but also community leaders and members.
“People in Hettinger care about their community,” said Fosheim. “I was blown away by the number of people who showed up to the event and the passion with which people spoke about the community.”
She continued, “We have a lot of groups, individuals, and entities that are doing amazing things for the community and working to address similar goals. I think it’s just vital that we get everyone to the table, so efforts are complimentary and not redundant.”