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Published February 09 2013

Forum editorial: A new era for valley prosperity

The best thing a new development and investment initiative has going for it is its home base: the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. The Valley Prosperity Initiative, which has been forming for several months, went public last week with a $500,000 investment and a roster of visionaries at the helm. It brings together 23 men and women from business, higher education, research and health care. Their aim is not merely to plan but to do.

A kick-start investment of $100,000 by Forum Communications Co. CEO William C. Marcil is complemented by $20,000 from each of the members of the steering committee. (The Forum is a Forum Communications Co. newspaper.) Their commitments, therefore, are more than attending meetings. “They’ve got skin in the game,” Marcil said, which means they will work to guarantee substantive results.

The goal is to exploit opportunities for continued economic growth and development, beginning with an assessment by a consulting firm to better understand the large and diverse region that is the valley. When the study phase is completed, the group will have the best data possible on which to build an action program. The planning is necessary, but implementation is paramount, a leader of the group stressed.

Since the initiative includes membership from every part of the valley, the old north-south competition will not be a factor. Participants understand prosperity for one location in the region is good for the entire region. The cooperative factor in the complex development equation is vital to success.

While the oil and gas boom in North Dakota’s west is very important to the state’s economy, the most reliable and steady economic growth – and subsequent opportunities for profitable investments – has always been in Red River Valley communities. Economic stability and diversity – stimulated in part by research, higher education, health care, retailing and the traditional agri-business base – will be the future of sustainable development for decades to come.

The partnership’s pragmatic blueprint, informed by visionary entrepreneurship, world-class research and data-driven investment, is a recipe for success.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.