North Dakota is Attracting Global Prosperity

Written by: Fargo Inc
By Shawn Kessell, COO/Deputy Commissioner, North Dakota Department of Commerce

In an increasingly interconnected world, states and regions are seizing the opportunity to tap into the benefits of foreign direct investment (FDI) to boost their economies and enhance their global engagement. The State of North Dakota has also embarked on an ambitious journey to leverage FDI as a catalyst for economic growth and development. Through the Department of Commerce Global Engagement Office, we have crafted a comprehensive FDI strategy that encompasses key elements crucial for attracting and retaining international investments.

Our FDI strategy begins with an analysis of its strengths and competitive advantages. The state recognizes the importance of capitalizing on its existing assets, which include a skilled and involved workforce, having primacy with regard to permitting, abundant natural resources, a business-friendly environment, and a well-developed infrastructure. By pinpointing target industries that align with these strengths—such as energy production, value-added agriculture, technology, uncrewed aerial systems, and manufacturing—we lay the foundation for a focused and effective FDI approach.

To stand out in the global arena, we understand the significance of offering competitive but targeted incentives. Although not specifically designed for foreign companies, existing incentives work well for them. Low corporate taxes, targeted subsidies, and streamlined regulatory processes act as magnets for foreign investors. Additionally, by facilitating access to financing options like the Legacy Investment for Technology (LIFT) fund, Clean Sustainable Energy Authority, the Bank of North Dakota, and the North Dakota Development Fund, Inc., we empower foreign businesses to take the leap into North Dakota’s promising market.

North Dakota consistently ranks in the top ten when comparing our economy to other states. State leaders, including Governor Burgum and the legislature, are committed to creating an environment that inspires confidence for the business community. Our stable political climate, steady legal framework, and transparent regulatory system send a powerful signal to international investors that their ventures are safeguarded. One example is the work done surrounding pore space. North Dakota has identified ownership rights, studied geology, and created liability laws that de-risk carbon sequestration to take advantage of our geological jackpot. By emphasizing access to essential resources like affordable housing, broadband access, and transportation, we further demonstrate our commitment to creating a nurturing ecosystem for businesses to thrive. Collaborations with foreign governments and organizations enable us to build our presence in international markets. Investment summits, mission trips, and participation in global fairs and exhibitions showcase North Dakota’s potential to a wider audience. Through thoughtfully designed investment and capital missions, we seek to ensure that our value proposition reaches decision-makers across the globe.

A delegation from North Dakota that included staff from Commerce, the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO), and the University of North Dakota recently attended these three back-to-back conferences: “Doing Business in the US”, “Vivatech” and the “Paris Air Show”. The benefits of being present and meeting with targeted companies is beginning to bear fruit. One of the companies we met with toured North Dakota in August, is establishing a presence in North Dakota.

One of the many objectives of the North Dakota Trade Office, a strategic partner, is foreign trade missions. Trade missions augment North Dakota’s economy and the bottom line of participating North Dakota businesses by increasing sales abroad. The NDTO and Commerce Global Engagement Office conducted a very successful joint mission to Japan in October 2022. Several Japanese businesses have visited North Dakota, more than once, since the mission. The NDTO has decades of experience working with foreign businesses and diplomats and has been an excellent partner.

We understand that fostering a culture of innovation not only attracts foreign investors but also empowers local talent. By creating an ecosystem that supports startups and provides essential resources like mentorship, training, and funding, we encourage the next generation of innovators to call their North Dakota home. InnovateND, LIFT, and support for the Northern Plains Test site are just a few examples of how North Dakota has thoughtfully approached innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our commitment to monitoring and evaluating the efficacy of our FDI strategy ensures that it remains agile and responsive. By tracking metrics such as the number of foreign investment projects, job creation, and tax revenue generation, we gain insights into the impact of our initiatives. Gathering feedback from foreign investors provides valuable insights into their experiences and enables us to refine our strategy for sustained success.

We are leading the charge towards a future marked by increased FDI, economic growth, and prosperity. By meticulously implementing a comprehensive FDI strategy that encompasses industry identification, competitive incentives, a favorable business environment, strategic partnerships, innovation, and continuous evaluation, we are poised to carve out a distinct place on the global economic stage. As the state continues to refine its approach, we hope to stand as a shining example of how strategic global engagement can transform our economy and enrich the lives of all North Dakotans.

North Dakota Department of Commerce
1600 E. Century Ave, Suite 6
Bismarck, ND 58503

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Brady Drake is the editor of Fargo INC!