Livability in small towns #9: State of North DakotaSeptember 8, 2010
By Sean Barry
This collection of 12 case studies helps put to rest the idea that livability is an exclusively “urban” idea. Small cities, towns and rural regions across the country are transforming themselves into more livable communities. While some of these communities face formidable threats – from job losses and shrinking populations to disappearing farmland and strained resources – their leaders have forged collaborations and created plans that are growing economies, benefiting people and protecting the land and lifestyles treasured by residents and non-residents alike.
|“Through a unified vision called Smart Growth, we will build a dynamic new future for North Dakota. Working together, we can achieve this bright future and a quality of life second to none, for ourselves and for our children.”
Governor John Hoeven, R – North Dakota
Facing a decline in population and lagging job growth, North Dakota’s governor initiated a long-range process to attract new employers and prepare North Dakotans for the 21st century.
In 2003, North Dakota Governor John Hoeven, a Republican elected in 2002 and re-elected overwhelmingly in 2006, launched a statewide smart growth initiative. The resulting Vision 2000 drew from people with a diverse array of perspectives, including business leaders, public sector employees and agricultural workers.
“During the decade of the 1980s, our state lost almost 14,000 people in population, our ag base was declining, and we were creating few new jobs in other sectors of our economy,” Hoeven said in his 2003 State of the State speech.
“In fact, communities like Bismarck and Fargo have seen significant growth of 12 to 22 percent, while other larger communities, and some smaller communities, have held their own, and even grown some as well,” he said. “But much of rural North Dakota has continued to struggle, and today we need a new focus that begins a second chapter in our quest for prosperity and quality of life.”
Hoeven’s smart growth vision included a commitment to excellence in education, using new technology to make the state attractive to employers and targeting industries like agriculture, tourism and energy where North Dakota has a competitive advantage.
“Through a unified vision called Smart Growth, we will build a dynamic new future for North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “Working together, we can achieve this bright future and a quality of life second to none, for ourselves and for our children.”