Burgum tours Dickinson

Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford toured Dickinson on Wednesday. As part of the governor's Main Street ND Initiative, the Downtown Dickinson Association and city of Dickinson hosted Burgum and Sanford as they visited Dickinson State Uni...

Gov. Doug Burgum, left, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford and Mayor Scott Decker heard comments and insights from community and business leaders Wednesday at Dickinson Public Library about the positives and negatives they are seeing as Dickinson grows. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford toured Dickinson on Wednesday.

As part of the governor's Main Street ND Initiative, the Downtown Dickinson Association and city of Dickinson hosted Burgum and Sanford as they visited Dickinson State University, enjoyed a walking tour of the city's downtown and held a listening session at Dickinson Public Library.

Burgum said he enjoyed the experience.

"We spent the morning at Dickinson State (University) hearing about all the positive things that are going on there," he said. "And this afternoon we had the chance to be with city leaders and officials and meeting business owners and entrepreneurs, and seeing all the great things happening in downtown Dickinson."

The Main Street Initiative focuses on gathering spaces for communities, workforce recruitment and developing efficient infrastructure.


Sanford lauded Dickinson's DDA and the city's Renaissance Zone plan.

"Dickinson's got a really good opportunity with its downtown development," he said. "A lot of positives here. There's a lot more to do, but a lot of positives."

Through the initiative, Burgum hopes North Dakota will reach its full potential.

"One thing we believe is North Dakota can't reach its full potential ...  unless all of our cities are firing on all cylinders," Burgum said. "Particularly a regional center like Dickinson, it's important this city keep doing what it's doing and focusing on building a healthy, vibrant community that will attract and retain the workforce we need."

Jennifer Strange, DDA executive director, said hosting Burgum and Sanford was "humbling" and "exciting."

"They were a wealth of information regarding the Main Street Initiative," Strange said. "It was practically a tutorial in urban planning we got while we all walked around downtown."

A listening session held at Dickinson Public Library invited 37 guests from the community to offer their insights and provide questions, with another 40 attending in the audience.

Reed Reyman, CHI Health President, said one of the hospital's challenges is providing technical education to attract potential new employees.


"We have a lot of need on this side of the state to fill those technical jobs," he said. "We have barriers that, for practicality, don't make much sense."

Burgum said he has heard licensure is a difficulty faced across the state, stating that there are 142 board and commissions for licensure in North Dakota.

Dickinson High School student Heidi Jazwa said the perception that there is "not much to do" for young people is accurate. She added that she'd like to see more activities.

Madison Kadrmas, a DSU first-year student, said the college feels isolated from the rest of the community, with not enough businesses exploiting DSU as a market.

"If there are things to do, they can draw students from DSU," Kadrmas said.

Burgum said more communities should survey their students about their wants and needs, especially focusing on the "missing gap" of youths ages 18 to 20.

Mayor Scott Decker suggested this can be achieved not by spending on infrastructure but by attracting more events to the city.

Burgum explained more young people engage in "collaborative consumption," using taxi app services rather than owning a car, for example.


Leaders, he said, need to think, "How do we build a community around people? And not, how do we build a community around automobiles?"

"Automobiles are not going to save the future of Dickinson or North Dakota," he said.

“Don’t plan a city for yourself.”

At a listening session held at Dickinson Public Library, Gov. Doug Burgum spoke about the importance of developing downtown spaces to attract and retain a young workforce. The session followed a tour of the city with Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford. (Brandon L. Summers / Dickinson Press)

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