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Published July 22 2013

Forum editorial: Housing stats more good news

The oil boom in western North Dakota has generated startling numbers, one of which is the spectacular increase in housing starts. That’s no surprise, given the industrial overlay in oil cities and counties.

In the east, however, construction of new homes is driven by factors that have made metro Fargo the reliable, steady economic engine of the state and of the Red River Valley region for decades. Saturday’s front-page Forum story by reporter Helmut Schmidt confirms that the underlying economic foundation of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo continues to grow without the vagaries inherent in the booms and busts of one-horse economies.

The numbers for housing look very good, as they have for several years, even during the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009. New homes and apartments are going up at a good clip in the three major cities of the metro. West Fargo is leading development, followed by strong numbers from Fargo and Moorhead. In other words, the entire urban area and its environs are economically strong. Housing and apartment building is an excellent measure of that strength. And the statistics do not include sales of existing homes and other properties, which are setting records.

Among the most important factors in the housing equation is the diversity of the regional economy. Underpinned by the traditional economic value of production agriculture, the metro is home to a vast range of essential services and businesses. It’s a regional hub for health care, education, transportation, retail and wholesale trade, trucking, manufacturing, construction, legal services, communications, new technology companies and much more. Nowhere in the immediate region is there such a concentration of new and established businesses and public sector services.

The variety in the economy translates into good-paying jobs, amenities families demand, and a strong housing market. It’s not a new story here, but it’s still a good one.


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