Here at the Chamber, we are excited to ring in 2017. With a new year comes new beginnings, and this January is especially exciting as both the North Dakota and Minnesota legislatures kick off their sessions following an interesting election cycle.
Craig Whitney is the president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
Following the elections in North Dakota, we saw a new governor come into office. Governor Doug Burgum comes to the role as a successful entrepreneur and businessman. One of his top priorities is his Main Street Initiative, discussing the three main pillars of economic success: a skilled workforce; smart, efficient infrastructure; and healthy, vibrant communities. The legislative body saw a few changes, with the Republican majority seeing increases in both the House and the Senate. Democrats will have new minority leadership this year as their previous leaders lost their re-election bids. It will be an interesting budgetary time for the state as an economy that is dependent on oil and agriculture commodities. We were thankful that former Governor Jack Dalrymple included $66.5 million in his budget for the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project. This money is part of the total sum that the state has committed to the project.
Minnesota also saw a few changes in its legislative makeup. With a change in the Senate, it will now hold a Republican majority along with the House, which picked up a few more seats for its Republican majority. With Gov. Mark Dayton’s term ending in 2018, this could be an interesting couple of years for the legislative and executive relationship in the state. District 4 legislators Sen. Kent Eken, Rep. Paul Marquart, and Rep. Ben Lien were all up for re-election and won their bids. Recently announced, Representative Lien will serve as assistant minority leader in the House.
In Minnesota, we will be working to continue to move forward the Moorhead Grade Separation project for the railroad on 20th Street. This project is important for the safety and security of our citizens but also the continued economic vitality of the region. We have hosted meetings with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway representatives, Minnesota Railroad Association representatives, and city and county leaders to continue discussions on this project and many other safety initiatives taking place.
Chamber staff and Board members will be attending the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Session Priorities dinner on January 4. At this event, the Minnesota Chamber will lay out its legislative agenda, Governor Dayton will speak and we will have the opportunity to connect with our elected leaders.
Please mark your calendars for our biennial event, “Chamber Day at the Capitol,” where we bring Chamber members out to Bismarck for a day to connect with our elected leaders, observe the legislative process and share the priorities important to Chamber member firms. This year’s trip will be held on Thursday, February 9. If you are interested in attending, please let us know.
We look forward to working closely with our elected leaders in Minnesota and North Dakota as we continue to make Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo a great place to live, work and do business in the year ahead.
Of course, we also have lots of other great events and initiatives planned at the Chamber for the coming year. We hope to see you around, and please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how to get involved.
FMWF Chamber of Commerce
202 1st Ave. N, Moorhead