One of my first assignments after joining this magazine was to attend the lavish groundbreaking celebration for Sanford’s Fargo Medical Center. (See “Sanford begins building Fargo medical center”)
It was a much to-do affair, part pep rally, part concert for the organization’s thousands of employees who were bused in from throughout the northern Plains to take part in the celebration. I remember looking across the area destined to become the medical center, which more closely resembled a music festival venue at that time, wondering how a multi-story, half-billion-dollar medical center would fit in to its surroundings and whether the project would advance as predicted. Two years remain to completion, but the trampled grass I stood on that hot July night has since been replaced with mounds of moved Earth, massive machinery and a towering multi-story steel structure. Progress is most definitely being made on this project, which ranks among the largest health care construction projects in the country and is so far on schedule and on budget, according to Sanford officials. Read “Reshaping Fargo’s skyline” for an update and description of what Sanford leaders believe will make this medical center uniquely suited for patient care.
Workforce continues to make its way into every issue, but this month we are happy to deliver some positive forward movement in efforts to resolve the regional shortage of skilled workers. Rob Swenson covers South Dakota’s recently announced Build Dakota scholarship program in his feature, “Taking Aim at Workforce Shortage.” The program, launched through a 50-50 partnership between the state and its most prolific philanthropist, Denny Sanford, will provide full scholarships to the state’s technical schools for 300 students every year for five years, after which an endowment fund will provide 50 full-ride scholarships annually. The program presents some solid movement toward recognizing the need for workers. Of course, the critical shortages being experienced throughout industries in the area will not be entirely solved by 300 students a year, but it’s a step in the right direction.
You can’t talk about higher education without at least thinking about student loan debt, so this issue also includes a look at an innovative program launched recently by the Bank of North Dakota to help state residents pay back their loans. The DEAL One program is geared specifically toward North Dakota residents, which could also boost the state’s efforts to attract and retain workers. Read “Lessening the Student Loan Load” for details.
Finally, our Business Insider this month is Klaus Thiessen, CEO of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. He was recently honored by the North Dakota commerce department as the state’s economic developer of the year and is likely to be in the news frequently this year as his group leads efforts to expand the region’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry and continues to pursue opportunities to diversify and strengthen the northern Red River Valley’s hub city. Read “Go-To Guy” to learn why the UAS industry, and Grand Forks businesses in general, are in good hands.
For the entire issue, visit http://www.prairiebizmag.com/pages/pb_2015_february.