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Group questions lack of new leaders during North Dakota 2.0 event in Dickinson

Press Photo by Ashley Martin Jasper Schneider, state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, speaks at Dickinson State University's Klinefelter Hall Monday afternoon during North Dakota 2.0.

More than 60 area leaders and Dickinson State University students gathered at Klinefelter Hall Monday afternoon and most agree, they want North Dakota to grow, but not too much.

The event was part of North Dakota 2.0, an effort to gather input from 12 communities, said Jasper Schneider, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development state director, who spoke at the event.

It allowed those in attendance to answer multiple choice questions using remote controls.

Many people weighed in on a lack of new people being elected or appointed to leadership positions.

"I think that sometimes it's not easy to put yourself out there for criticism -- yourself and your family," said Ray Ann Kilen, North Dakota Small Business Development Center regional director.

Others agree it may be because of lack of privacy and potential damage to reputations.

"They feel like they're taking a step down," said Gaylon Baker, Stark Development Corp. executive director. "It used to be a step up."

Others said it may be modesty or a lack of confidence.

The majority said a lack of willingness to change is the biggest barrier to building an economically vibrant and socially inviting community. However, 95 percent said they are open to change.

"Lack of trust goes along with the lack of willingness to change," DSU student Zach Keller said. "There's a lot of new companies and a lot of new people in this specific area and it's just completely different to the people who are originally from here."

He added people may be more willing to change if the oil boom the area is experiencing wouldn't have hit so fast.

"It wasn't really a chosen change," DSU student Alex Gates said. "When you don't necessarily want it in the first place, all the negatives seem that much more negative."

Most people said they want growth, but not too much.

DSU student Brittany Wentz said those who do not move a family here or establish one when they get here are more likely to leave.

However, others said families can't grow roots here because of the high cost of living.

Fifty-eight percent said investing in infrastructure will help develop a diversified, sustainable economy.

Most people were more satisfied with transparency in state government compared to local. Baker said he would be more satisfied if county commission meetings were televised as Dickinson City Commission meetings are.

Sixty-two percent are not satisfied with transparency in federal government.

Gates said it's because too many leaders in federal government "say one thing and do another."

The North Dakota 2.0 community tour will be in Watford City Thursday and conclude in Crosby Friday.

"When we release those results and recommendations, what it does is it gives us something tangible," Schneider said. "Then it's up to our leaders at all levels to choose to listen to them or not."