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Published November 13, 2009, 04:32 PM

Senator Kent Conrad Pushing For Growth In Griggs County

The recession may not have hit North Dakota as hard as other parts of the country, but the state is facing its own economic and employment problems. Senator Kent Conrad is helping local officials in Griggs County push for economic development.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

The recession may not have hit North Dakota as hard as other parts of the country, but the state is facing its own economic and employment problems.

Senator Kent Conrad is helping local officials in Griggs County push for economic development. He says energy, like that from wind, is key to bringing jobs and development to the area. This would help with one of the state's biggest problems: outmigration.

An aging population. Young people moving to bigger cities. Those are some of the issues that North Dakota is facing, especially the rural areas like Griggs County.

Sen. Kent Conrad: "We need to ensure there are good jobs to keep our workers, particulary our young people who represent the future of our state, here in North Dakota."

Unemployment in North Dakota is much lower than in other parts of the country. And since there are jobs, local leaders say that is helping to bring in new people.

Becky Meidinger: "Because of our current positive state of affairs we are beginning to see people willing to take a risk and move here."

One of the major problems that Griggs County is facing is that although there are jobs, there isn't enough housing for people who go there to work.

Becky Meidinger: "We have had no new units built other than one set of condos for the previous ten years."

It's hard to support construction costs for new properties, because if they were to go up for sale, appraisals would show the cost probably wouldn't be covered.

Sen. Kent Conrad: "Trying to convince a lender to put up money for that property the appraisal will not support, it's not going to happen."

One audience member suggested a cooperative model for housing, which is used in Minnesota. Conrad says he thinks this plan could work.

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