« News & Views with Joel Heitkamp

North Dakota's To-Do List (Written by: Joel Heitkamp)

by Amy Iler

We all could make a lot of money if we just knew what the future held for us.

I had the privilege of being involved with the Fargo/ Moorhead/ West Fargo “State of the Cities” event today. The conversation wasn't based on the past and what we used to do to bring economic development in, in fact, it was just the opposite.

Today the conversation was based on how good things are. The question was asked of West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern, “if you had a manufacturer come to West Fargo in need of 500 workers could you fill those needs”?! His answer was honest and short, “no”. As a talk show host, it was nice to hear that level of honesty. Heck, I bet it was nice for everyone to hear that kind of honesty.

So, what has happened? Two words: agriculture and oil. 

Farmers are doing well. (Even though there still seems to be some “farmer jealousy” out there - and there always will be.)  It is true that when farmers do well, we ALL do well. How do you think the folks selling pickups and bobcats are doing?  

And none of us need to be told, but, oil has exploded the North Dakota economy, tax collections and a train. Oil is here and it is not going to slow down. We in the eastern part of the state love the revenue but easily forget the needs of western North Dakota.  

So, what does the future hold? In my opinion, it is an easy answer. It is time to invest in our state. Where roads need to be made into four lanes, we need to do it. Where schools need to be built, we need to do it. Where elderly need adequate housing, we need to do it. And, where railroads need to be regulated, we need to do it.

We have the money to invest. 

In other words, when we need to find leaders that lead, we need to do it.