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Wrigley: State blessed with opportunities, people

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It was a pleasure to be in Bowman and accept President Chris Johnson and the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce’s invitation to speak at their April 21 meeting. I always appreciate opportunities to personally thank the people living in our fastest-growing region for the extraordinary role they play in making North Dakota the No. 1 economy in America.

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North Dakota is an island of economic and social prosperity while the national economy continues on an anemic path. In North Dakota, we have lowered taxes, and invested heavily in roads, water and education. We’ve balanced these expenditures by also having prudent rainy day funds for the inevitable natural disaster or commodity price fluctuation. It’s all been possible because North Dakota’s economy is more diverse than ever. High-tech development, energy innovation and advanced manufacturing have brought new career opportunities and new wealth to our state, while robust growth in production agriculture has kept our traditional economic base very prosperous.

North Dakota is producing jobs faster than any other state and we’ve had the fastest-growing incomes six out of the past seven years. Combined with our excellent quality of life, it’s no surprise to see North Dakota’s population rising faster than any state in the nation.

These are truly remarkable times that generations of North Dakotans have worked toward. Opportunity can flourish right here in the heart of North Dakota — the greatest state, in the finest nation on earth.

So many communities are experiencing challenges that would have seemed impossible just a few short years ago. Conversations were focused on avoiding school closures, dwindling capacity to support local businesses and public infrastructure, and steady migration to our largest cities, or even to other states.

To be sure, we have real challenges in this robust economy. In response, we have devoted unprecedented investments in water infrastructure, in our highways and in our county and township roads. We have expanded school funding to meet current needs and to actually expand our schools. We’ve found innovative solutions to increase affordable, safe housing opportunities.

We are so blessed to have the capacity to consider our options, join together and march ahead. That is one of the characteristics that make North Dakota so special. And our problem-solving skills have never been more important, as the nation seeks to replicate what we have here. America stands infinitely closer to energy independence and freedom from the influence of the energy-rich nations that do not share our values or our ideals. America’s role in the world is very much at stake.

In the weeks ahead, I look forward to meeting again with Bowman Mayor Lyn James and other leaders who are eager to continue moving North Dakota forward. As a fourth-generation North Dakotan, I know we are blessed with hard-working people across the state who look to the horizon and count our state’s blessings. And, it is the people that are our greatest resource of all.

Wrigley is the lieutenant governor of North Dakota. Contact him at governor.nd.gov.

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