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Wendy Reuer, Published April 09 2012

Dilworth lays tracks for more business

DILWORTH – This railroad city is hoping it can lay down tracks that will drive new business into town.

Mayor Chad Olson asked City Council members Monday night to consider steps the city could take to help grow its business sector, especially that of downtown.

Olson said the city has seen a number of businesses leave or close shop recently, such as Altony’s. In February, the Italian restaurant re-opened in Moorhead, just a few miles west of its Dilworth location.

“I’m a little concerned by that,” Olson said.

Like Moorhead, the community of about 4,000 has been in competition with the larger North Dakota cities of Fargo and West Fargo for both residents and businesses over the years.

As a border city, Dilworth is able to offer new businesses tax incentives through the state Border-Cities Enterprise Zone program. The program provides property tax credits, financing credit on new construction, sales tax credit on construction equipment and materials, and employee credits to qualifying businesses.

The city also owns an empty downtown lot. City Administrator Ken Parke said if a business was interested in buying the lot, the low price coupled with the Border-Cities program incentives would make the land virtually free.

Dilworth is currently a member of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. Olson said creating a Dilworth Chamber of Commerce is not a feasible goal, but he would like his city to be more involved with the larger chamber.

“I want the city to be a named member. We want to work with the chamber to be a more integral part of everything they do,” he said.

Councilwoman Julie Nash suggested that the city consider creating an economic development committee.

Nash said the council should also look into helping promote current business.

“I think we have two different tracks here that we need to address,” Nash said,

The council decided Monday to discuss the business issue at its May 15 retreat. The retreat is scheduled for 2 p.m. at The Depot.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530