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Published March 12 2010

F-M businesses urged to support flood-fight plan

Fargo-Moorhead businesses must become more involved in helping secure permanent flood protection if they don’t want a repeat of last year’s devastation.

That’s the message from Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker to the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. executive board.

“Last year we were criticized over and over again by the business community” after the record-breaking 2009 flood forced many to close their doors for extended periods, Walaker said Thursday.

Walaker and Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral updated the EDC on proposed flood protection alternatives being considered by Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth, Cass and Clay counties, Minnesota and North Dakota, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We need some positive feedback from the business community,” Walaker said. “Right now, all we’re getting is the negative.”

The biggest problem is deciding how to fund a project, he said.

“Everybody wants to talk about the projects, but nobody wants to talk about funding.”

Lack of flood protection could hurt local business and job growth, said Brian Walters, GFMEDC president.

Corporations doing business in Fargo-Moorhead have expressed concern about future flood possibilities, he said.

“The impact of closing can be devastating for those companies,” he said, and in some instances may be a factor in whether they stay in Fargo-Moorhead.

“If we don’t see some solutions coming, we’re going to lose jobs,” Walters said.

“We’ve got to get something done, and we’ve got to get it done as soon as possible,” Zavoral said.

“What can we do to help?” Walters asked.

“We need some support,” Walaker said. “All we’ve heard from people is, ‘Not in my backyard.’ ”

The EDC board passed a resolution Thursday supporting a 500-year flood protection plan and urging that federal authorization occur this year.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502