Manufacturing in the State of the State Addresses: North Dakota

By January 5, 2011Economy, Energy, Technology

January is the month for governors to deliver State of the State addresses, and again this year we’ll highlight the sections of their speeches that discuss manufacturing.

While new governors have already delivered their inaugural addresses, the first State of the State speech we find comes from North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who was sworn in last month to the office as Gov. John Hoeven resigned to take a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Unlike other states, North Dakota faces no budget crisis — unless you count the potential of overspending as a crisis — thanks largely to the amazing oil and gas boom from development of the Bakken Formation (and high agricultural commodity prices). Economic growth and a 3.8 percent unemployment rate make for more positive rhetoric than we’re likely to see from, for example, in today’s speech from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Dalrymple acknowledged energy’s important contributions in his speech, delivered Tuesday to a joint session of the North Dakota Legislature in Bismarck.

The energy industry has long provided a major opportunity for job growth.  To foster that growth, we have promoted the development of all forms of energy, traditional and renewable. For instance, in the oil and gas industry we facilitated a dramatic expansion in transportation infrastructure.  By expanding our pipelines and rail transportation, we’ve doubled capacity from 230,000 barrels of oil per day in 2007 to nearly 460,000 barrels in 2010.  This obviously is a critical element in expanding the job opportunities in the energy industry.

Jim Arthaud saw opportunity in our growing oil and gas industry. He and other family members established Missouri Basin Well Service with one truck in 1979.  Today, the oilfield logistics company is the largest private employer in Stark County with 500 employees, 130 contract workers, 200 company trucks and 150 leased trucks. Their company transports oil, sand, water and other oilfield products throughout western North Dakota.  When we talk about developing the energy industry for North Dakota, we’re talking about entrepreneurs like Jim Arthaud and his family.  Jim, please stand so we can thank you for all those jobs.

Dalrymple, a Republican, also discussed the state’s emphasis on technology, tourism, and value-added agriculture as target industries. The other, advanced manufacturing, is sought because “here state-of-the-art equipment provides not only greater efficiency but also higher-paying jobs that require advanced skills learned in North Dakota.”

North Dakota’s strategies for economic success is documented in a new report from the state’s Department of Commerce, with the goal of creating jobs across all industries and sectors: “The first strategy is sustaining a positive business climate.  That means a focus on low taxes, a friendly regulatory climate, and the most responsive state government anywhere.” Infrastructure, under pressure in Western North Dakota, is a priority for investment, Dalrymple said, and he included workforce development and exports as other areas for emphasis.

Growth, jobs, manufacturing and investment. It’s a strategy other states and the new Congress would do well to emulate. Welcoming energy development would qualify as a good start.

(Disclosure: Your correspondent was communications director in the 2000 Hoeven-Dalrymple campaign. But gosh, that was more than a decade ago.)

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