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Dickinson joins Main Street ND initiative

Dickinson has joined the Main Street ND Initiative. Started by Gov. Doug Burgum, the program provides resources and guidelines to help create vibrant downtown areas and represents a unified effort across the state. The initiative looks at three p...

By joining the statewide Main Street ND initiative, Downtown Dickinson Association and other local agencies hope to create a more vibrant downtown that will attract new people to Dickinson and help to retain those who already live here. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)
By joining the statewide Main Street ND initiative, Downtown Dickinson Association and other local agencies hope to create a more vibrant downtown that will attract new people to Dickinson and help to retain those who already live here. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson has joined the Main Street ND Initiative.

Started by Gov. Doug Burgum, the program provides resources and guidelines to help create vibrant downtown areas and represents a unified effort across the state.

The initiative looks at three pillars: healthy, vibrant communities; 21st century workforce; and smart, efficient infrastructure.

"It's really an initiative that encourages the MSI communities to start to build these vibrant and revitalized downtown areas," Jennifer Strange, Downtown Dickinson Association executive director, said.

The DDA is joined in the effort by City of Dickinson, Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, Stark Development Corp. and Dickinson State University, among others.

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Having attended a statewide Main Street ND summit, held in Bismarck on Feb. 12, Strange is excited about the prospects for Dickinson.

"After a team of nine or 10 of us from Dickinson went to the Main Street (ND) summit... we came back and said, let's make Dickinson an MSI community, and let's figure out how we can grow and develop and benefit from the governor's initiative," she said.

According to Strange, millennials identify a vibrant downtown as being key in considering where they want to live. This includes a vibrant nightlife, community-oriented activities, public markets, outdoor dining and seating, cultural arts and live music.

"The reality is fewer and fewer people need to go to a corporate campus for their job," she said. "Millennials especially can figure out how to work a job they like from a laptop, anywhere they want to live. That is groundbreaking."

Positive qualities already in place in Dickinson include its historic architecture and downtown events, an effort that has been growing over several years.

"We have that idea and reality of cultural arts programming already happening in downtown Dickinson," Strange said. "Our hope as we develop the (MSI) aspect in Dickinson is we all start to work together and turn this into a concerted effort that benefits all stakeholders."

Direction is also provided for common concerns, such as increasing local shopping.

"We learned that, for instance, 70 percent of all brick and mortar retail purchases happen between 4 and 9 p.m.," Strange said. "One of the things most vibrant downtown neighborhoods share is late night shopping."

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Other positive features include outdoor seating and engaging storefronts. Currently being developed by the DDA is a downtown promenade.

The initiative also aims to quell urban drift.

"We're losing people when they hit an age of young adulthood because they go somewhere else," Strange said. "We also lose people when they age and become senior citizens. They move to where their kids have moved to, or to the bigger city for easier retail and health care services."

Being a part of the statewide effort is exciting, Strange said.

"We look forward to getting the information from them that might be available to us," she said. "They are the holders of a lot of really great information and resources that they can direct MSI communities to that could include granting opportunities."

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