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Published February 23, 2011, 04:20 PM

'The Grand Forks Promise'

Mayor Brown delivers ninth annual State of the City address
Grand Forks mayor Michael Brown says the city has seen significant job growth in the last year. Unemployment is at three percent, which contrasts with a national figure around nine percent.

Grand Forks mayor Michael Brown says the city has seen significant job growth in the last year. Unemployment is at three percent, which contrasts with a national figure around nine percent.

Jobs was the main message Brown gave Wednesday in his ninth annual State of the City address.

Brown had three words for citizens: engage, innovate and build.

Those ideas have led to a few rewards for Grand Forks.

"The number of people employed in our region grew 1.3 percent over the last year," Brown said.

That means 700 more people have jobs in Grand Forks, jobs that will come in handy because the city itself has seen a 13 percent population increase during the last decade.

"That translates to a population in Grand Forks just shy of 56,000. Locally, our approach to economic development is what I call economic gardening. We grow from within," Brown said.

Mayor Brown says this growth comes from partnering with the Economic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce to create a growing environment for business. He credits record enrollments at UND, a new, changing mission at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, and the way we fly.

"You see the Global Hawk mission landing and now we're seeing positive growth at the Grand Forks Air Force Base," Chamber of Commerce president Barry Wilfahrt said.

Brown says he wants to keep Grand Forks' future in mind. Plans to renovate both high schools and build a new wellness center new library do that.

"We're engaging, innovating and building for tomorrow. Partnerships give us the tools to engage one another on multiple levels," Brown said.

Brown also says the state's budget surplus has helped Grand Forks. Six years ago the city's property taxes were at 2.2 percent. Now, they're at about 1.7 percent.

The address will be rebroadcast locally on GFTV Channel 2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through March 13th.

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